Davis v. Cline, 11

Decision Date31 January 1972
Docket NumberNo. 24485,No. 11,11,24485
Citation177 Colo. 204,493 P.2d 362
PartiesLoretta Delphine DAVIS, Plaintiff in Error, v. Glenna Dene CLINE and School Districtin the County of El Paso and State of Colorado, Defendants in Error.
CourtColorado Supreme Court

Quigley, Wilder, Helwig & Palermo, P.C., Richard V. Hall, Colorado Springs, for plaintiff in error.

Yegge, Hall & Evans, John R. Trigg, Denver, for defendant in error.

LEE, Justice.

This controversy arose out of a traffic accident in which the automobile of plaintiff in error, Loretta Delphine Davis, was allegedly forced off the highway by a school bus operated by Glenna Dene Cline on behalf of School District No. 11 in the County of El Paso and State of Colorado. Mrs. Davis' claim for personal injuries was rejected by the jury and she brings error to reverse the adverse judgment in favor of defendants. The judgment must be reversed.

The evidence in support of Mrs. Davis showed that during the afternoon of October 31, 1967, shortly after 3 p.m., she was driving easterly in the right-hand traffic lane of Palmer Park Boulevard in Colorado Springs. This boulevard is a four-lane highway with two traffic lanes running westerly and two traffic lanes running easterly.

The evidence showed that the school bus was proceeding easterly in the left traffic lane adjacent to the Davis vehicle at about the same rate of speed, which was well within the speed limit. The relative positions of the two vehicles as they proceeded down the highway, according to the Davis testimony, placed the front end of the Davis auto approximately even with the right front door of the school bus. The evidence showed that the bus was thirty-seven feet long and approximately seven feet wide. The left traffic lane in which it was traveling was only nine feet in width. The right traffic lane was eleven feet in width.

The bus and auto had traveled adjacent to one another for about one and one-half blocks, when suddenly, according to Mrs. Davis, the bus began to come over into her lane of traffic. She was forced to turn her auto sharply to the right to avoid a collision and in doing so she drove up and over a vertical 8-inch curb at an alleyway entrance into the street where her car came to rest. In striking the curb, she was thrown against the steering wheel, which resulted in the aggravation of a previous back injury, as a consequence of which she was required to undergo surgery to effect a spinal fusion.

Mrs. Davis testified the entire incident happened in a 'couple of seconds' and that she thought she had no choice but to turn her auto to the right into the curbing to avoid the impending collision.

Mrs. Cline testified that she looked in the right rear mirror before commencing to turn the bus, but did not see any cars; that as she turned into the right lane the Davis auto then came into view; and that she quickly swerved the bus back to the left lane to avoid a collision. The evidence demonstrated there was a 'blind spot' in the vision to the right rear which apparently prevented Mrs. Cline from seeing the Davis vehicle when she first looked into the mirror.

The complaint for damages charged defendants with negligence. In answer, the defendants affirmatively alleged contributory negligence, assumption of risk and failure to mitigate damages. The court instructed the jury on the issues of negligence and contributory negligence only.

Although plaintiff requested and tendered an instruction on the principle of sudden emergency, the court refused to give such an instruction. The record does not contain any statement of reasons for denial of this requested instruction.

Mrs. Davis submits several specifications of error as a basis for reversal. We need consider only the denial by the court of the tendered instruction on sudden emergency, which we find to be dispositive of this case.

The doctrine of sudden emergency has long been recognized in Colorado as a valid principle bearing upon alleged negligent conduct that may be attributed to one who finds himself confronted with an emergency choice. The principle was first recognized by this Court in Denver & B.P.R.T. Co. v. Dwyer, 20 Colo. 132, 36 P. 1106, and most recently was considered in Bartlett v. Bryant, 166 Colo. 113, 442 P.2d 425. The rationale of the doctrine is that in an emergency there is no time for cool reflective deliberation during which alternative courses of action might be considered and explored; but rather, the situation demands speedy decision based largely upon the actor's perception of the compelling circumstances. In the words of Professor Prosser:

'* * * Under such conditions, the actor cannot reasonably be held to the same conduct as one who has had full opportunity to reflect, even though it later appears that he made the wrong decision, which no reasonable man could possibly have made after due...

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22 cases
  • Taco Bell, Inc. v. Lannon, 85SC209
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • October 5, 1987
    ...situation demands speedy decision based largely upon the actor's perception of the compelling circumstances." Davis v. Cline, 177 Colo. 204, 208, 493 P.2d 362, 363-64 (1972).Under such conditions, the actor cannot reasonably be held to the same conduct as one who has had full opportunity to......
  • Young v. Clark, 90SC354
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • July 9, 1991
    ...sufficient evidence exists that a party acted in an emergency situation not caused by the party's own negligence. See Davis v. Cline, 177 Colo. 204, 493 P.2d 362 (1972); Cudney v. Moore, 163 Colo. 30, 428 P.2d 81 (1967); Daigle v. Prather, 152 Colo. 115, 380 P.2d 670 (1963); Stewart v. Stou......
  • Wade v. Olinger Life Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • January 31, 1977
    ...principles involved. See C.R.C.P. 51.1, Construed in Gallegos v. Graff, 32 Colo.App. 213, 508 P.2d 798 (1973). See also Davis v. Cline, 177 Colo. 204, 493 P.2d 362 (1972). In the absence of authority to the contrary, the legal principles atticulated in the instructions should be considered ......
  • Bedor v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • January 22, 2013
    ...instruction and competent evidence supports that request. Kendrick v. Pippin, 252 P.3d 1052, 1059 (Colo.2011); Davis v. Cline, 177 Colo. 204, 208–09, 493 P.2d 362, 364 (1972). “Competent evidence” in this context is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to suppor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Protective Doctrine of Undue Influence
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Lawyer No. 38-6, June 2009
    • Invalid date
    ...referred to as the risk of non-persuasion."). 23. Williams v. Chrysler Ins. Co., 928 P.2d 1375, 1377 (Colo.App. 1996). 24. Davis v. Cline, 493 P.2d 362, 364 (Colo. 1972). See also Wagner v. Case Corp., 33 F.3d 1253, 1252 n.2 (10th Cir. 1994) (applying Colorado law and concluding "[u]nder Co......

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