Judicial District of Tolland


     Torts; Negligence; Whether the Defendant, Whose Motor Vehicle was Struck From Behind Causing it to Propel into the Plaintiff's Vehicle, was Entitled to Summary Judgment on the Ground that he Owed no Duty of Care to the Plaintiff. 

The plaintiff brought this negligence action seeking to recover for injuries she sustained in a motor vehicle accident.  She alleged that the defendant's vehicle, which was stopped at an intersection as the defendant waited to make a left turn, was hit from behind and then propelled into the lane of oncoming traffic where it collided with her vehicle.  She claimed that the defendant was negligent in stopping his vehicle with its wheels turned to the left in such a manner that, were he to be hit from behind, his vehicle would move into the lane of oncoming traffic.  In granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment, the trial court found that a driver stopped at an intersection while preparing to turn left owes no duty of care to oncoming drivers to foresee and defend against the possibility that a third vehicle will smash into the rear of his vehicle and force it into the path of oncoming traffic.  The Appellate Court (128 Conn. App. 692) reversed, concluding that the trial court improperly focused on whether the defendant had a specific duty to the plaintiff to keep the wheels of his vehicle in a forward alignment rather than on the more general duty that the defendant had to the plaintiff to exercise reasonable care to avoid traveling into her lane of traffic.  It then found that the question of whether the defendant breached his duty to exercise reasonable care not to cross his vehicle into the plaintiff's lane and strike her vehicle was a question of fact for the jury and that the issue should not have been determined by summary judgment.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly reversed the trial court's judgment where the defendant claims that Connecticut drivers owe no duty to anticipate the tortious and unlawful conduct of other drivers.