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Cordas v. Peerless Transportation Co. Case Brief

Summary of Cordas v. Peerless Transportation Co., City Ct. New York, 1941

Facts: Two men who had just robbed, at gunpoint, a man, were being chased.  One of the pursued jumped into a cab.  The pursuer, being partial clad, was running outside the cab giving chase.  The cab driver was being persuaded by pistol to escape the scene or suffer the loss of his brains. The cab driver slammed on the brakes shortly thereafter, and exited the cab.  The cab while still moving, and containing the now injured robber, rolled onto the sidewalk and struck a mother and her two children.

Issue: Whether the chauffeur’s abandonment of the taxi when he faced the pistol of a fleeing felon constituted a standard of care an ordinary person would execute?

Holding: Yes

Procedure: Motion for reserved decision, Df dismissing Pl complaint granted.  Exceptions Pl.

Rule: Failure to exercise care and caution which a reasonable and prudent person ordinarily would exercise under the like conditions or circumstances.  If under normal circumstances an act is considered negligent, then if performed by a person acting under an emergency, not of his making, is not negligence.

Ct. Rationale: When acting under the belief that his life is in danger and by abandoning the taxi he will save his life is not negligence.  The law places no emulation upon an ordinary man in this situation.  He is not required to exercise unerring judgment, which would be expected of him, were he not confronted with an emergency requiring prompt attention.

PL A: The value of the interest of the public at large to be immune from being injured by a dangerous instrumentality such as a car unattended while in motion, is superior to the driver’s right to abandon the same.

Def A: When an emergency situation is thrust at a person, the ordinary standard of care shapes to that situation.




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