In a case of first impression, a Judge has ruled that distraction from a GPS could be a basis for punishment damages. (punitive) The logic extends from the same as texting and driving.
In the Pennsylvania case of Rockwell v. Knott, Judge Terrence R. Nealon has recognized a possible cause of action if the evidence is established that
“A motorist arguably may engage in recklessly indifferent conduct, and therefore be liable for punitive damages, if (s)he completely diverts his or her attention from the roadway to observe a low-positioned GPS device, and nevertheless continues to travel on the roadway until (s)he collides with another vehicle“.
In the above styled case, the Judge dismissed that punitive claim part of the lawsuit because he did not find that the plaintiff had any evidence, that the jury could consider regarding the GPS distraction; other than the defendant having the equipment and the plaintiff making the claim in the lawsuit.
The Legal Intelligencer reporter points out another case (Kodash v. Latimer 2012) where a Judge allowed evidence of a handheld device as a possible distraction going to the jury, because there was sufficient evidence that the driver had been using the equipment at the time of the crash. Apparently, that was something like a phone operating as a GPS for that driver.
While this Rockwell case did not allow the punitive damage claim to go to the jury, it does allow for the consideration of equipment providing distraction to the driver. Based on this case, I can see the day when a GPS system could be like texting, and recognized as a driving violation. The more technology that we have, the more temptation to use it while driving.
Now, let’s stay with the equipment theme.
Because we have just started the NFL football season, it seemed timely to start with a DID YOU KNOW football fact. In 1888, the college football rules convention voted that players could now tackle below the waist. DID YOU KNOW that it wasn’t until 1905 that equipment like protective pads really became a part of football.
The Chicago Tribune did a story in 1905, on the injuries and deaths that were occuring regularly in football. President Theodore Roosevelt issued a statement that “I demand that football change its rules or be abolished. Brutality and foul play should receive the same summary punishment given to a man who cheats at cards!” (Ideological Critism Of the National Football League’s Increase In Helmet To Helmet Discipline)
The NFL was slow to make helmets mandatory. The last known player to play without a helmet was Dick Plasman of the Chicago Bears. He played in the 1940 NFL Championship game where the Bears beat the Redskins 73-0.
And on to a Monday pic o’ day: