collision between Phyllis Darden and Todd Abraham

Litigation: This case involves a motor vehicle collision between Phyllis Darden and Todd Abraham

Litigation – This case involves a motor vehicle collision between Phyllis Darden and Todd Abraham. Todd Abraham is a police officer with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. Anne Arundel County (“the County”) is a chartered county located in the state of Maryland. At the time of the accident, Phyllis Darden was leaving a family function. As a result of the accident, Ms. Darden suffered several physical injuries. Officer Abraham’s injuries were less serious.

Factual Background: The Incident

On February 8, 2012, at approximately 10 p.m., Officer Todd Abraham was on duty and conducting police patrols in his assigned marked patrol car. He was driving on Crain Highway when he received a dispatch call to report to a burglary in progress. The patrol car was assigned to him by the police department and owned by the County.

After receiving the call, Officer Abraham said he activated his emergency lights and siren. As he approached the intersection of Crain Highway and Hospital Drive, the traffic light at the intersection was red for persons traveling in the same direction. Officer Abraham proceeded through and did not stop for the red light. As he traveled through the intersection, he was caught off guard by Ms. Darden. He tried to avoid colliding with her car, but was not successful. He states that he turned off his lights and siren after the collision and then radioed for police and ambulance assistance.

About the same time, Phyllis Darden had just left a family dinner hosted at a relative’s house. Ms. Darden states that as she proceeded down Hospital Drive and as she approached the intersection with Crain Highway, the traffic light regulating her travel was red. She sat at the red light for approximately one and one-half minutes until the light turned green in her favor. There were no cars in front of her car. Ms. Darden states that she proceeded to drive through the intersection. She never heard or saw any police sirens or lights. While traveling through the intersection, she was hit by Officer Abraham.

According to other officers at the scene, Ms. Darden complained of physical pain in her arm, right side, and back while she was still at the scene. Officer Abraham did not complain of any injuries at the time. The next morning, however, he felt pain in his neck and lower back. He went to see his doctor for treatment.

Ms. Darden’s injuries consisted of a broken right arm, two fractured ribs, and pain in her neck. She was hospitalized for two days, and her medical bills total $78,000.

Ms. Darden is a resident of Alexandria, Virginia. Officer Abraham is a resident of Howard County, Maryland.

Factual Background: Witnesses

Police Officer Adrian Wright was in his police cruiser on Princeton Lane at its intersection with Crain Highway. He heard the dispatch call about the burglary in progress, but was not on his way to the call because he was in the process of transporting a prisoner. He saw Officer Abraham driving down Crain Highway. He saw the emergency lights activated, but does not recall hearing a siren. About twenty (20) seconds later, he heard a loud “bang,” which was the collision that occurred at the next intersection. He immediately proceeded to the scene and waited for other officers and the ambulance to arrive.

Terence Wright (no relation to Officer Wright) and Enor Williams were on Crain Highway near its intersection with Hospital Drive. They were waiting at the traffic light. From the rear, they saw the emergency lights of a police car, and then they saw the lights go out prior to the police car passing them. A few seconds after the police car passed them, they saw the police car collide with another vehicle in the intersection. They never heard police sirens.

Karen McDonough was in her car on Hospital Drive and was behind Ms. Darden’s car while they waited at the traffic light. Ms. McDonough states that she never saw any police lights or heard any sirens.

None of the witnesses to the collision could recall how fast either car was traveling at the time of the accident.

Investigation

The County Police Department conducts an investigation of all motor vehicle accidents involving death or serious bodily injury. They also conduct investigations when police officers are involved in accidents. The Accident Reconstruction Section is responsible for conducting these investigations.

Investigator Troy Davis, who is assigned to this section, conducted the investigation regarding the accident involving Ms. Darden and Officer Abraham. After measuring the skid marks on the road, he concluded that at the time of the collision, Officer Abraham was traveling at approximately fifty (50) mph. He also estimated that Ms. Darden was traveling at twenty-two (22) mph. The legal speed limit in this area is thirty (30) mph.

The lawsuit relating to this incident was filed in January 2013.

Ms. Darden has contacted the firm of Watts & Watts regarding the accident. The firm has decided to represent her. The partner assigned to the case, Robin Watts, has asked you to research some preliminary issues in preparation for filing suit. Ms. Watts is considering filing suit against Officer Abraham and the County.

Prepare a litigation chart using negligence as your cause of action (the elements of negligence are provided below). Address the chart with regard to both potential Defendant(s). Your chart should use the format from the text, i.e., the elements of the claim; the sources of proof; what, if any, type of informal fact investigation can be used to obtain the proof; and for what sources of proof you will need to conduct formal discovery.

Negligence: Duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable harm from dangers that the owner knew about, should have known about, or created.

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