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Hammontree v. Jenner

From lawbrain.com

Hammontree v. Jenner, 20 Cal.App.3d 528 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.1971), was a tort law case that discussed the application of the correct standard of liability – negligence or strict liability.

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Summary of Case Facts

The defendant, Jenner, suffered from epilepsy and had experienced seizures in the past. The defendant was under regular care of a neurologist who, after several years without seizures, deemed it safe for the defendant to drive. Some time later, the defendant suffered an epileptic seizure while driving and crashed into Hammontree’s bike shop (plaintiff) which caused personal injury and property damage. At trial the plaintiff sought damages and moved for summary judgment on the basis of strict liability rather than simple negligence. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court erred in not granting plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment based on strict liability.


Does the standard of strict liability apply to automobile drivers?

Holding and Law

No. Case precedent has held that drivers struck by sudden illness resulting in unconsciousness should be evaluated on liability based on the principle of negligence, not strict liability. The driver can only be liable if the seizure was foreseeable and if the driver did not take any actions to prevent it.

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