Bostwick v. Flanders

Decision Date24 May 1984
Docket NumberNo. 67729,67729
Citation171 Ga.App. 93,318 S.E.2d 801
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals
PartiesBOSTWICK et al. v. FLANDERS et al.

Sheryl D. Fambrough, Atlanta, for appellants.

David S. Currie, Nicholas C. Moraitakis, Harold W. Whiteman, Jr., T. Cullen Gilliland, M. Scott Barksdale, Atlanta, for appellees.

BENHAM, Judge.

Appellant John Bostwick was injured in an automobile accident in September 1980 while a guest passenger in a car driven by appellee Clinton Stewart. Bostwick and his wife subsequently filed suit against Stewart, alleging that the host driver was grossly negligent in the operation of his vehicle. This appeal follows the grant of a directed verdict in favor of Stewart and the judgment entered thereon.

The incident which gave rise to the instant lawsuit occurred before the effective date of OCGA § 51-1-36, which provides that "[t]he operator of a motor vehicle owes to passengers therein the same duty of ordinary care owed to others." Prior to the enactment of § 51-1-36, a host driver owed only a duty to exercise a slight degree of care. See Tidwell v. Tidwell, 92 Ga.App. 54(4), 87 S.E.2d 657 (1955). With this standard in mind, we now turn to the facts of the case at bar.

Appellant Bostwick and appellee Stewart were members of a group which consumed two to three cases of beer during a day-long rafting trip on the Chattahoochee River. Upon completion of the rafting trip, the group got in Stewart's car in order to retrieve a car which they had left at the place where they had embarked on the rafting expedition. After negotiating a curve in the road, the Stewart vehicle crossed the centerline of Akers Mill Road and collided with an oncoming vehicle. Within seconds, another automobile rounded the curve and struck the rear of the Stewart vehicle.

In their complaint appellants alleged that Stewart had displayed gross negligence by driving his automobile while under the influence of intoxicants. However, those members of the rafting group who testified at trial on behalf of appellants, including appellant John Bostwick, denied that appellee Stewart was intoxicated. In fact, each man stated that appellee was not drunk. Bostwick and another passenger testified that neither one of them would have entered the Stewart car if he had thought Stewart was intoxicated. The only conflicting evidence was the testimony of a passerby who witnessed the collision and attempted to help the injured. He stated that he spoke to Stewart and found him incoherent. He also testified that "all of the people in [the Stewart] car were obviously drunk." He based this opinion on his observations of "[t]he way they acted, the way they were walking around." However, when asked to elaborate on his observations, the witness stated that he "really didn't know how to describe it." The eyewitness to the accident also testified that he saw the Stewart car weaving in the proper lane moments before the accident, which occurred when the Stewart vehicle crossed over the centerline into the path of the oncoming traffic.

One of the passengers in the Stewart car, who stated that he would not have entered the vehicle if he had thought Stewart was...

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5 cases
  • Georgia Trails & Rentals, Inc. v. Rogers
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • March 11, 2021
    ...right to draw the inference is within the exclusive province of the jury." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Bostwick v. Flanders , 171 Ga. App. 93, 94, 318 S.E.2d 801 (1984). See Morgan v. Horton , 308 Ga. App. 192, 198 (3), 707 S.E.2d 144 (2011) (same). Here, the jury could have found t......
  • Currid v. Dekalb State Ct. Probation Dept., No. A05A0149.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 28, 2005
    ...omitted.) Trustees of Trinity College v. Ferris, 228 Ga.App. 476, 477(1), 491 S.E.2d 909 (1997). 17. See Bostwick v. Flanders, 171 Ga.App. 93, 94, 318 S.E.2d 801 (1984); Sumter Milling & Peanut Co. v. Singletary, 79 Ga.App. 111, 115(2), 53 S.E.2d 181 (1949). 18. See McFann v. Sky Warriors, ......
  • Trustees of Trinity College v. Ferris, A97A1055
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • September 11, 1997
    ...the right to draw the inference is within the exclusive province of the jury." (Punctuation omitted.) Bostwick v. Flanders, 171 Ga.App. 93, 94, 318 S.E.2d 801 (1984). We believe the facts were sufficient to present a jury question regarding appellants' gross negligence. The jury could have ......
  • Johnson v. State, 67713
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • May 24, 1984
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