Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, relying on res ipsa loquitur
In James Blasius v. Angel Automotive Inc (ND Ind., Van Bokkelen), a 27-page opinion, Judge Blakey (ND Ill., sitting by designation) writes:
In July 2009, Appellant James Blasius purchased a used 2005 Ford Excursion. In June 2012, Blasius entrusted Appellee Angel Automotive, Inc. (“AAI”) with upgrading the vehicle to make it “safe” and “reliable.” Blasius alleges that AAI negligently betrayed that trust when, one day and about 200 miles after pick up, the vehicle caught fire and was destroyed. The district court granted summary judgment for AAI after concluding that: (1) Blasius failed to present evidence that AAI’s work proximately caused the fire; and (2) the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply. Blasius appealed. For the reasons explained be‐ low, the decision of the district court is REVERSED. * * *
Our ruling, of course, takes no position regarding Appellant’s ability to link his vehicle fire to AAI’s conduct by a preponderance of the evidence at trial, nor do we opine up‐ on the strength of Appellant’s negligence claim as a whole. Such a determination rightfully belongs in the hands of the fact finder at trial. At present, it is enough to say that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to the proximate cause of the fire that consumed Blasius’ vehicle, and that, for the purpose of settling that dispute, Appellant is entitled to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
For these reasons, the judgment of the district court is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings con‐ sistent with this opinion.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 12, 2016 01:50 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions