Pedeferri v. Seidner Enterprises

June 10, 2013

The recent case of Pedeferri v. Seidner Enterprises, decided May 15, 2013, by the Second Appellate District, Division One (Ventura County) confirms the duty of care to persons on or near the roadway who are injured as a result of the negligence of a vendor in loading and securing cargo in a vehicle in a way that distracts its driver.

Here, the driver had just purchased a motorcycle that was put in the back of his truck and strapped in by the vendor. While driving home, the motorcycle became loose and distracted the driver's attention from the roadway such that he careened off the roadway and into a California Highway Patrol officer and the motorist he had just stopped.

Tragically, the highway patrol officer suffered catastrophic injury. At Trial the jury concluded that the driver of the vehicle was 67% at fault and the vendor was 33% at fault for the manner in which they secured the cargo.

The case on appeal had two legal issues. The first issue was whether the vendor had a duty of care to persons who might be harmed as a consequence of a vehicle driver being distracted by the poorly secured cargo. This the Court of Appeal resolved affirmatively.

Unfortunately, the Trial court allowed a toxicologist to offer the opinion the driver was "most likely" not impaired by his marijuana use because he was a "chronic user." On this issue, the Court of Appeal found there was insufficient factual basis to support this opinion and that it should not have been allowed. They further concluded that it was a prejudicial error such as to warrant a new trial on the issue of liability.

This post is published by  The Law Offices of Padilla Law Group, LLP, specialists in Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Product Liability matters.