Colman v. McCarthy
A defendant driver who collides with another motor vehicle may not be responsible for the other driver's injuries, if an unidentified third party is responsible for colliding with the defendant driver's motor vehicle. At 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2009, the plaintiff, Scott Colman, was in his motor vehicle in the driveway of the gasoline station at Routes 2 and 627 in North Stonington. The defendant, Charles McCarthy, operated a Jeep as he traveled East on Route 2. McCarthy stopped in the eastbound travel lane, about 15 feet from Colman's motor vehicle, because there was insufficient space to turn into the gas station. The two motor vehicles directly behind McCarthy's Jeep observed the Jeep slow, and they used their brakes to slow their motor vehicles. An unidentified driver allegedly collided with the last motor vehicle, then fled the scene, and each motor vehicle collided with the motor vehicle in front, in a chain reaction. Colman sued and alleged that McCarthy failed to keep his motor vehicle under proper control, was inattentive, failed to keep a proper lookout, drove too quickly for the conditions, failed to use his horn and failed to turn his steering wheel to avoid the collision. McCarthy moved for summary judgment and argued that he followed the law and was not negligent. The court found that Colman failed to provide any admissible evidence that McCarthy breached his duty of care to the plaintiff. Prior to the collision with the unidentified motor vehicle, McCarthy was in control of the Jeep. "The fifth vehicle—which fled the scene—was the cause of series of collisions which ended with the movant's Jeep colliding with the plaintiff's automobile," wrote the court. There were no genuine issues of material fact, and the court granted McCarthy's motion for summary judgment.