Subject: Oregon Supreme Court says truck's previous owner can be sued for negligence

Pub: Lawyers USA

Author: Lawyers USA Staff

Category: Justice

Sub-Category: Courts

Issue Date: 10/22/2007      Word Count: 253

Oregon Supreme Court says truck's previous owner can be sued for negligence

by Lawyers USA Staff

Dolan Media Newswires


BOSTON, MA -- The previous owner of a tractor-trailer can be sued for negligently maintaining it, even though the axle failure that injured the plaintiff occurred a year after it sold the truck, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled.

The plaintiff was injured when an axle on the tractor-trailer failed and its wheels came off, bounced across the road, and struck his vehicle. He sued the trucking company that sold the tractor-trailer a year before the accident occurred, alleging its failure to maintain it contributed to his injuries.

He claimed the defendant drove the truck approximately 500,000 miles without performing the recommended servicing on its axle bearings and other components.

The defendant argued it didn't owe a duty to the plaintiff.

The court disagreed, rejecting the defendant's claim that the intervening ownership absolved it of responsibility.

"[Federal motor carrier regulations] do not excuse a prior owner, such as defendant, from the consequences of its negligence during the time it owned the motor vehicle. If anything, the regulation [it relies on] cuts against defendant's argument; it implies that defendant had a duty to maintain the vehicle in a safe condition during the time it owned it.

"[Also, Oregon case law] is consistent with the general rule that 'the failure of a third person to act to prevent harm to another threatened by the actor's negligent conduct' does not excuse the actor from responsibility for his or her own negligence," the court said.

Bailey v. Lewis Farm, Inc. (Lawyers USA No. 9938441) Oregon Supreme Court No. S53916. Oct. 11, 2007.

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