The Law School Authority

Rossell v. Volkswagen of America Case Brief

Summary of Rossell v. Volkswagen of America (1985) Pg. 414, 147 Ariz. 160, 709 P.2d 517 (1985)

Parties: Appellant – Plaintiff – Rossell

Appellee – Defendant – Volkswagen

Court: Arizona Supreme Court, 1985

Facts: Rossell was driving down the road in a 1958 Volkswagen bug with her 11 month-old daughter, Julie, in the car. Around 11 p.m., Rossell fell asleep behind the wheel, drove off the road, made an attempt to correct, but oversteered flipping the car upside down into a cement culvert. The accident dislodged a battery which began dripping acid on Julie over a 7 hour period until Rossell gained consciousness.

Procedural Posture: TC – jury found the Plaintiff and granted $1.5 in damages. Court denied Volkswagen motion for summary judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

MC – held that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of negligence and TC erred in denying summary judgment n.o.v.

Issue: Is expert testimony required for your argument in regards to a field of study where the practices are usually beyond the knowledge of the layperson?

Judgment: Vacated MC’s decision and affirmed judgment of the TC.

Holding: Plaintiff did make a prima facie case of negligence. Industry groups will be held to the reasonable care standard of Industry Custom. Expert Testimony is not required for these negligence cases, and juries are allowed to make “reasonable” decisions to the outcome based upon their own experiences and knowledge.

Relevant Rule: Special groups will be allowed to create their own standards of reasonably prudent conduct only when the nature of the group and its special relationship with its clients assure society that those standards will be set with primary regard to protection of the public rather than to such considerations as increased profitability.

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