Atherton v. Devine, No. 53445

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtHODGES; LAVENDER; IRWIN, V. C. J., and OPALA
Citation1979 OK 132,602 P.2d 634
PartiesDelayne A. ATHERTON, Appellant, v. Dan Joseph DEVINE, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 53445
Decision Date18 September 1979

Page 634

602 P.2d 634
Delayne A. ATHERTON, Appellant,
Dan Joseph DEVINE, Appellee.
No. 53445.
Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
Sept. 18, 1979.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 26, 1979.

Page 635

Appeal from the District Court of Oklahoma County; Stewart M. Hunter, judge.

Certiorari granted pursuant to 12 O.S.1971 § 952(b)(3). Appellant seeks reversal of the trial court's order that as a matter of law the appellee involved in a traffic accident cannot be held liable for the subsequent injury sustained by the appellant while he was a passenger in an ambulance transporting him to the hospital from the situs of the original accident.


Bloodworth, Smith & Biscone by Robert B. Smith, Oklahoma City, for appellant.

Proctor, Fleming & Speck by Kent Fleming, Oklahoma City, for appellee.

HODGES, Justice.

The certified order which affects a substantial part of the merits of this controversy is the holding of the district court that, as a matter of law, the appellee, Dan Joseph Devine, who was involved in the original accident, cannot be held liable for subsequent injuries sustained by the appellant, Dalayne A. Atherton, while he was a passenger in an ambulance transporting him to the hospital from the scene of the initial accident. Because it is a case of first impression, and interlocutory appeal will materially advance the ultimate determination of this action, we grant certiorari.

Immediately following the automobile accident involving the parties, an ambulance was summoned to take the appellant to the hospital for treatment of injuries he had received as the result of the collision. The ambulance was involved in a second collision resulting in the appellant sustaining additional personal injuries.


The question presented is whether an original tortfeasor, causing personal injury to one because of his negligence, may be liable to that person for injuries received in a second accident while being transported in an ambulance from the situs of the first accident. It is asserted by appellant that the appellee should be held responsible for the subsequent injuries because, absent the conduct of the appellee in the first accident, the appellant would not have been placed in the position, i. e., an ambulance ride to the hospital which resulted in his additional injuries.

The general rule is that an intervening force which could reasonably have been foreseen or which is a normal incident

Page 636

of the risk created will not suffice to relieve an original tortfeasor of liability. 1 A person who has received an injury due to the negligence of another is entitled to recover all damages proximately traceable to the primary negligence including subsequent aggravation which the law regards as a sequence and natural result likely to flow from the original injury even though there may have been some intervening cause contributing to the result. Where there is an intervening responsible agency which directly produces an injury the question whether the original negligence is to be regarded as the proximate cause of the injury, or only as a condition, is to be determined by ascertaining whether the agency which intervened was of such character and the circumstances under which it occurred were such that it might have been reasonably expected that an injury similar to the one caused might actually happen. If, under the circumstances, the intervention of such an agency in the manner in which it occurred might reasonably have been expected to happen, then the chain of causation extending from the original wrongful act to the injury is not broken by the independent intervening agency, and the original wrongful act is...

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32 cases
  • Lockhart v. Loosen, 86836
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • July 15, 1997
    ...the natural consequence of the negligence. It must also have been the probable consequence." Id. 204 P.2d at 279. 16 Atherton v. Devine, 602 P.2d 634, 636 17 Minor v. Zidell Trust, 618 P.2d 392, 394 (Okla.1980). 18 Thompson, supra note 12 at 264; Zidell Trust, supra note 17 at 395. 19 Turne......
  • Willard v. Kelley, 69347
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 4, 1990
    ...Okl., 368 P.2d 852, 854-855 (1962); Long v. Ponca City Hospital, Inc., Okl., 593 P.2d 1081, 1084-1085 (1979); Atherton v. Devine, Okl., 602 P.2d 634, 636 (1979); Minor v. Zidell Trust, Okl., 618 P.2d 392, 394 (1980); Thompson v. Presbyterian Hosp., Inc., Okl., 652 P.2d 260, 263-264 20 Of co......
  • Johnson v. Hillcrest Health Center, Inc., 97,076.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • February 18, 2003
    ...¶ 8, 943 P.2d 611; Lockhart v. Loosen, 1997 OK 103, ¶ 10, 943 P.2d 1074. 30. Jackson v. Jones, see note 24, supra; Atherton v. Devine, 1979 OK 132, ¶ 4, 602 P.2d 31. Thompson v. Presbyterian Hospital, Inc., see note 24, supra; Minor v. Zidell Trust, see note 26, supra. The hospital relies o......
  • In re Adoption of 2008 Revisions to Oklahoma Jury Instructions Civil, 2008 OK 93 (Okla. 10/14/2008), SCAD-2008-77.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 14, 2008
    ...of the original injury. Notes on Use The first alternative in this Instruction should be used in cases such as Atherton v. Devine, 1979 OK 132, 602 P.2d 634, where the plaintiff received additional injuries when the ambulance in which he was being transported from the original accident was ......
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