Jordan Toner, 29, allegedly not only engaged in reckless drive-in in front of witnesses, but may have created the world’s worst record of the it with a selfie while driving . . . just before he hit a tree in Maine.
Police say that Toner was driving with seven passengers when he leaned over to participate in a selfie. The two females in the front seat suffered a fractured nose, cuts, and a possible back injury. Neither were wearing seat belts. Two male passengers also suffered cuts and injuries. The passengers were identified as Jesse Toner, 31, Adam Toner, 35, Elizabeth Toner, 28, Katharine Ferrill, 28, Kyle Ferrill, 28, Chris Dean, 29, and Meaghan Brown, 28.
Toner is facing a charge of failing to maintain control of a motor vehicle due to being distracted.
What struck me about this case is the question of whether the passengers could sue. It is clearly negligence for a driver to engage in a selfie. However, the selfie included at least some of the passengers. That raises a serious Plaintiffs’ conduct question of comparative fault or contributory negligence. Maine Code Revised Title 14, Section 156 establishes a comparative negligence standard under the modified or partial model where a plaintiff’s own negligence only bars recovery if the judge or jury find he or she was 50% or more responsible for the accident, injury, or death. Would participation in the selfie constitute a 51% contribution? I think that it would, but such things are often left to the jury. The two women without seat belts would clearly be barred under such a standard in my view.
What do you think?