Kyle Best was responding to text messages sent by his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, when he allegedly caused a car accident that seriously injured a couple on a motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle, David Kubert, had his left leg torn off above the knee and his passenger, wife Linda Kubert, eventually had her left leg amputated because of her car accident injuries.
The Kuberts sued both Best and Colonna on driving and texting civil charges. The Kuberts argued that Best should not have been texting while driving, and that because Colonna should have known that her boyfriend was driving and texting, she was “electronically present” at the time of the auto crash, was a distraction to the driver, and was thus liable for personal injury damages.
Colonna testified at trial, however, that she did not know Best was driving at the time of the accident. NJ State Superior Court Judge David Rand sided with Colonna and dismissed the civil suit against her. Rand said that it is reasonable for text message senders to assume the recipients will behave responsibly. Rand also feared unlimited liability, stating that drivers are bombarded with many forms of distractions, and that extending liability in this case would cause any form of distraction to potentially serve as the basis of a liability, negligence case.
Best previously plead guilty in the criminal case to distracted driving and admitted he was exchanging text messages with Colonna around the time of the motorcycle accident. Best was ordered to speak to 14 high schools about the dangers of texting and driving and must pay $775 in fines.
The Kuberts are planning to appeal the decision with respect to the dismissal of the civil suit against Colonna, but also hope that the attention to the case will at least lead to some changes and awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
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