Court reverses judgment for injury victim against insurer
In Brown v. Travelers, et al., a private security officer parked her company pick-up on the left side of a residential street with headlights and emergency overhead lights operating, 100 feet from an intersection. No emergent reason was offered for her parking illegally. The darkness at the time of the event may have been alleviated by streetlights: testimony was contradictory.
Brown turned into the street on a motorcycle, thought he had been "cut off" by a vehicle in the wrong lane, lost control of his bike and struck a home, suffering injury. He argued he was "tricked" by the manner in which Christina Wagner parked her vehicle facing in the wrong direction: she argued he was simply traveling too fast.
Since he was on a bike, Brown was not eligible to collect no fault PIP benefits (essentially medical and up to three years' wages) unless his accident involved a vehicle parked in such a manner as to represent an unreasonable risk of harm. The trial court ruled that Wagner's illegally parked vehicle was unreasonable--as a matter of law--and granted summary disposition to Brown. The Court of Appeals reversed. Not only did it reject the lower court's decision, it held the vehicle was not unreasonably parked, as a matter of law. The Court's $125,000.00 judgment for the motorcyclist was reversed.
This appears to us to be a classic case where "reasonable minds could differ" on the question of whether the vehicle was unreasonably parked, given the conflict in testimony and the circumstances.