Automobile Liability

Civil Liability for Allowing a Friend to Drive Drunk?

Two 17-year-old boys were arrested in Glastonbury, CT last month and charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree on the ground that they knew their friend Jane Modlesky, also 17, was too drunk to drive when she got behind the wheel of an SUV in July before crashing into a tree and dying. Modlesky had left a party where alcohol was being served to over 100 minors with four 17 year old boys. Although the SUV belonged to the parents of one of Modlesky’s friends, the car was initially not being driven by Modlesky. One of the boys dropped himself and a passenger off before handing the keys to the third boy who drove to his own house, where the two accused boys got out and handed the keys to Modlesky. They apparently did so without having the opportunity to see her drive. One wonders if there had been…Read More

Driver with Bikini Emergency Found Blameless in Fatal Crash

Appellate Division Expands Scope of the “Emergency Doctrine” Although the fact pattern of Pelletier v. Lahm, 2013 WL 6084204, 2d Dept., 2013 seems like it was cast from the characters in a lurid reality television show, the case appears to expand the use and scope of the emergency doctrine which in skilled hands can lead to the successful defense of an auto case even where the defendant admits to statutory negligence. Whereas the typical emergency doctrine case involves a driver attempting a defensive maneuver as a result of a car crossing into the defendant’s lane from the opposite direction, Pelletier potentially expands the doctrine to situations involving surprise and/or embarrassment relating to the antics of children and childlike adults. In Pelletier, defendant Brittany, a bikini clad 19 year old was driving a girl friend and two boys home from a weekend at the Jersey Shore. One of those boys, Brandon,…Read More