Court overturns jury verdict in favor of family of young man who struck inadequately lighted slow-moving logging machine
The family of Christopher Groulx sued Danny Frederick Bard and Shawn Muma Logging after Christopher was killed in an early morning wreck. He struck the rear of a logging machine, on a dark, foggy morning, as the machine was being moved at 10 mph on a highway. The machine lacked reflectors and other lighting required by Michigan's Motor Vehicle Act and had only one small white light on the roof.
The trial judge directed a verdict in favor of the family on the issue of comparative fault, finding that reasonable jurors could not conclude that Christopher was negligent in failing to recognize the machine in time to avoid hitting it. The Court of Appeals reversed, and threw out the resulting jury verdict in favor of the family. It held that the judge abused his discretion by failing to instruct the jury on the rear-end collision presumption and by ruling on comparative negligence. It ordered a new trial where the jury will be instructed that Christopher is presumed to have been negligent, but may prove otherwise.