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Friday, August 08, 2014

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In Estate of Carman v. Tinkes, et al (ND Ind., Cherry), a 6-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

Edmund Carman died after crashing his car into the back of a commercial pickup truck. His estate brought state negligence claims in federal district court against the truck’s driver, the driver’s employer, and the truck’s owner, invoking the court’s diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). (Carman was a citizen of Indiana, where his estate is pending, while the defendants are citizens of Illinois.) The district court granted summary judg-ment for the defendants. The estate appeals. * * *

The undisputed evidence shows that early one morning in April 2011 while it was still dark outside, Carman was in Gary, Indiana, driving west on U.S. 20. He was driving “quickly” and did not have his headlights on. As he ap-proached a red light at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Utah Street, he did not attempt to stop or slow down. He struck the right rear corner of a Ford F-350 pickup truck that was driven by Daniel Tinkes. The truck had its lights on. The damage to Carman’s car, a Kia Spectra, was devastating: the entire driver’s side of the car was torn off. Carman was killed. * * *

Even under the estate’s version of events, the defendants were entitled to summary judgment.

To succeed on a negligence claim under Indiana law, the plaintiff must prove the standard elements: that the defend-ant had a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused the plain-tiff’s injury. Yost v. Wabash College, 3 N.E.3d 509, 515 (Ind. 2014). Carman’s estate offers two theories of negligence. The first is that Tinkes was violating traffic laws at the time of the accident, making him per se negligent and permitting a jury to find that he was at least partially at fault for Carman’s death. The second is that an after-market metal bumper on Tinkes’s truck was hazardous and caused the already serious accident to be fatal. Neither theory can survive summary judgment. * * *

The judgment of the district court in favor of defendants is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 8, 2014 01:31 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions