McCoy v. American Suzuki Motor Corp. Case Brief

Summary of McCoy v. American Suzuki Motor Corp., S. Ct. WA , 1998

Intervening Cause

Relevant Facts: PL stopped to assist at an auto accident where a Suzuki has overturned and the driver was seriously injured. HWY patrol had Pl disperse flares along the roadway. Pl thereafter held a flare and directed traffic. After the driver and car were removed, the patrolman left and pl was struck while walking on the shoulder toward his car.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the df’s defective product was the proximate cause of the Pl’s injury?

Court’s Holding: Jury has to decide.

Procedure: trial ct found rescue doctrine applies to product liability suit, but df was not proximate cause of injury; App Ct reversed [injured rescuer does not need to prove proximate cause] Reversed and remanded.

Law or Rule(s): Foreseeability of an intervening cause should be decided by a jury not a court. Pl must show that df was the proximate cause of injury.

Court Rationale: Pl demonstrated sufficient facts for rescuer status. The rescuer doctrine applies wher a product manufacturer causes the danger. The alleged fault of Df, if proved, is not too remote from these injuries that its liability that as a matter of law, the liability should be cut off.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The df’s product was defective in that it would roll and cause accidents, it is therefor foreseeable that rescuers would render aid and approaching cars would cause injuries.

Defendant’s Argument: It is unforeseeable that a rescuer would be injured by a third vehicle while assisting under the facts above.

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