Court denies summary disposiition to SMART, but overturns sanctions for frivolous defense
When Jesse Campbell sued the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation alleging that he had been hurt by a bus driver's negligence, the attorneys for the authority sought summary disposition. They argued that a victim of the governmental entity's operation of a bus must prove more than negligence in order to pursue a claim. The Trial Judge had summarily rejected this argument and sanctioned the SMART lawyers for filing a frivolous defense.
The Court of Appeals rejected the argument that a governmental entity is not responsible for the negligent operation of a motor vehicle, but it overturned the sanction award. It noted that the driver--unlike the governmental owner--is only liable for gross negligence. Therefore, it ordered the trial judge to reconsider the issue of sanctions awarded against the SMART attorneys, since it was at least arguable that part of SMART's legal pleadings were "warranted by existing law."