By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A driver failed to prove that another driver was negligent when the two were involved in an auto accident at a Cody intersection, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The court rejected arguments by Nathan Wageman that a jury should have found Destin Harrell negligent in the accident.
According to the ruling, Wageman was driving his car toward what was described as a “complex” T-intersection. Drivers approaching the intersection from one direction have to drive down a steep hill, while drivers approaching from the direction of the stop sign at the intersection have an obstructed view of the road because of shrubbery and “at certain times, blinding sunlight.”
The ruling said Wageman and his wife were driving north on the road and Harrell was at the intersection’s stop sign facing east, waiting to turn left.
“Mr. Harrell proceeded from the stop sign as Mr. Wageman turned and Mr. Harrell’s car struck the driver side of Mr. Wageman’s truck,” the ruling said.
Wageman sued Harrell for damages for injuries he suffered in the accident, alleging Harrell was negligent in the accident.
The jury in the case disagreed, finding Harrell was not negligent.
Wageman said the evidence he presented was sufficient to prove Harrell’s negligence and the jury’s ruling was improper.
But the Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, said jurors were told that Harrell’s view was obstructed by the sun and were also told that when Wageman started making his turn, his vehicle crossed over Harrell’s lane of travel.
Because jurors were presented with conflicting information, they were not bound to declare Harrell negligent, the opinion said.
“The evidence shows Mr. Harrell carefully approached the intersection, took extra time to twice look left and right, proceeded slowly when he thought it was safe, and only collided with Mr. Wageman because Mr. Wageman had cut sharply into his lane of travel,” the opinion said. “The jury could reasonably conclude from this evidence that Mr. Wageman failed to meet his burden to establish that Mr. Harrell breached his duty of ordinary care. We therefore will not disturbe the jury’s verdict.”