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Case of pedestrian struck in crosswalk should not have been dismissed

Angel Niamtu was crossing State Street in Big Rapids,when she was struck by a car driven by Jeffrey Boudah.  Both were on their way to class at Ferris State. Angel had no memory of seeing Boudah's car before she was struck just before she reached the opposite curb of the four-lane street.   Boudah admitted that he had seen Niamtu step off the curb three-plus lanes away, but claimed that he didn't have time to stop without hitting her.  His insurer presented a reconstruction expert who argued that from the resting position of the vehicle and Niamtu after impact, he could compute Boudah's speed and that it was under the 35 mile-per-hour speed limit.  On the basis of this evidence, the trial judge dismissed Niamtu's claim.

The Court of Appeals rejected the lower court's reasoning and returned the case to Mecosta County Circuit Court for trial.  The Court pointed out that there were no obstructions to Boudah's vision of Niamtu after she stepped off the curb three lanes away:  from this testimony, a jury could readily conclude that Boudah was not exercising reasonable care for pedestrians in the sidewalk.  The Court noted that a vehicle driver's duty is greater than a pedestrian's duty, because of the additional harm the driver may cause.  Therefore, the lower court could not simply conclude that Niamtu was more responsible because she either didn't see Boudah approach, or didn't remember seeing him approach.  Furthermore, the jury was entirely free to reject the testimony of any witness---including the opinion testimony of an expert.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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