Boulevard Rule Motion for Summary Judgment

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND
Civil Division

STEPHANIE BELL, - Plaintiff,

v.

JESSE MICHAEL PEOPLES,
- Defendant.

Case No. 02-C-07-126401

Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability

Plaintiff, Stephanie Bell, by and through her attorneys, Ronald V. Miller, Jr. John B. Bratt and Miller & Zois, LLC, hereby submits her Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability pursuant to Md. Rule 2-501. Judgment should be entered in favor of Plaintiff on the issue of liability because the material facts of this case are undisputed, and Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Introduction

His case involves an automobile accident that occurred on August 6, 2006 at the intersection of eastbound Pasadena Road and Maple Avenue in Anne Arundel County. The undisputed facts stated below clearly establish that this is a case where the Defendant simply failed to remain stopped at a stop sign and yield the right of way to the Plaintiff, who was proceeding on the favored boulevard. Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law based upon the undisputed material facts of this case and the application of Maryland’s Boulevard Rule to those facts. (You can find a Boulevard Rule appellate brief here that also sets out some good law on the Boulevard Rule in Maryland.)

About This Case

Incredibly, this case went to trial four different times. Four. First: defense verdict we got reversed on a motion for new trial. Second: hung jury. Third: Defense counsel got sick during trial. Fourth: defense verdict. Thankfully, we agreed to a high low with GEICO before the fourth trial.

Undisputed Facts

The Plaintiff was operating her vehicle eastbound on Pasadena Road approaching the intersection of Maple Avenue. Exhibit 1, pp. 18-20. Plaintiff was traveling in a straight line, at the posted speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour. Id. The Defendant was operating his motor vehicle on Maple Street. Exhibit 2, p. 13, lines 2-11. When Defendant reached the intersection of Maple Avenue and Pasadena Road, he intended to turn westbound onto Pasadena Road. Exhibit 2, p. 14, lines 11-13. This required Defendant to stop at a stop sign that controlled access to Pasadena Road from Maple Avenue. Exhibit 2, p. 13, lines 9-11. He pulled from the stop sign and was struck by Plaintiff’s vehicle as it traveled along Pasadena Road. Exhibit 2, p. 13, lines 12-15. Defendant admits that his view of oncoming traffic was obscured by a bush to his left. Id. The first time Defendant ever saw Plaintiff’s vehicle was after he pulled away from the stop sign, immediately prior to the collision. Exhibit 2, p.17, lines 18-20. Upon seeing Plaintiff’s vehicle approaching, Defendant panicked and stopped, causing the Plaintiff to strike his vehicle. Exhibit 2, p. 18, lines 1-13.

Due to the Defendant’s sudden and unexpected actions, the Plaintiff had no time in which to avoid the automobile collision. Exhibit 1, p. 22, lines 11-16.

The Defendant admitted to a police officer at the scene of the accident that he was at a stop sign and could not see, and that he inched forward and pulled out onto Pasadena Road causing the Plaintiff’s vehicle to hit his vehicle. Exhibit 2, p. 27, lines 4-10; Exhibit 3.

There were no adverse weather conditions or other circumstances to prevent the Defendant from seeing the Plaintiff’s vehicle if the Defendant had actually kept the proper look-out. Exhibit 2, p. 12, lines 8-14.

Argument

The undisputed facts of this case make it clear that the Defendant simply failed to yield the right-of-way to Plaintiff’s vehicle traveling eastbound on Pasadena Road. The application of the Boulevard Rule shows that Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland has stated that “the duty of the unfavored driver to yield the right of way extends to traffic on the whole of the favored highway, and the driver on the favored highway has the right to assume that he will do so.” Dunnill v. Bloomberg, 228 Md. 230, 234, 179 A.2d 371, 374 (1962). Further, “[t]he fact that the defendant’s view was obstructed … does not excuse him; on the contrary it required the exercise of particular caution.” Id. at 235, 179 A.2d at 374. On very similar facts, the court in Dunnill concluded the plaintiff was entitled to a directed verdict on the issue of the defendant’s negligence and his own lack of contributory negligence. Id. at 236, 179 A.2d at 375. A like result is mandated here.

Additionally, the facts in Brendel v. Ellis, 129 Md.App. 309, 742 A.2d 1 (1999), are virtually identical to this case. There, the defendant driver was driving on West Street in Baltimore City. Id. at 312, 742 A.2d at 2. The defendant reached the intersection of West and Hanover Streets, which was controlled by a stop sign. Id. The defendant was on the unfavored roadway. He stopped, and began to “inch” his vehicle onto Hanover Street, because his view to the left was obstructed by a parked vehicle. Id. As the defendant crossed Hanover Street, his vehicle was struck on the passenger side by a vehicle traveling on Hanover Street. Id. The defendant testified that as he inched out, he saw no oncoming traffic, but that once he was proceeding across Hanover Street, he saw a truck heading towards his vehicle. Id. at 312, 742 A.2d at 3.

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held that the defendant was negligent as a matter of law. Id. The court summarized the applicable law:

Under Maryland law, traffic rights of way are well established and certain roads or highways are favored. A motor vehicle on a favored road has the right -of-way against a vehicle on an intersecting unfavored road. The driver on the unfavored road must stop before entering the favored road and yield to the driver proceeding on that road, provided the favored driver is operating his vehicle lawfully. Although he may not ignore obvious danger, the favored driver may assume that the unfavored driver will stop and yield the right of way.

When a motorist reaches a stop sign at the intersection of his road and another, and the street across which he wishes to proceed does not have a stop sign, that motorist is traveling on an unfavored road and crossing a favored road. Maryland law clearly articulates his obligations toward drivers on the favored road:

accidentinterrogatories

If the driver of a vehicle approaches a through highway, the driver shall:

  1. Stop at the entrance to the through highway; and
  2. Yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle approaching on the through highway.

§21-403(b) of the Transportation Article; Brendel v. Ellis, 129 Md.App. 309, 315-16, 742 A.2d 1, 8-9 (1999).

Here, the facts are nearly identical. Defendant pulled into the favored roadway when his view was blocked by an obstruction, only to see Plaintiff’s vehicle for the first time when it was too late. It is undisputed that Plaintiff was proceeding lawfully on the favored roadway. Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law that Defendant was negligent, and that there was no contributory negligence on her part.

Conclusion

Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The undisputed facts show that Plaintiff was the favored driver, was proceeding lawfully on the roadway, and that Defendant was the unfavored driver and failed to yield the right of way. Under Maryland’s Boulevard Rule, Defendant was negligent as a matter of law. Accordingly, Plaintiff respectfully requests that this honorable Court enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant, and that this matter be set for trial on the issue of damages only. Respectfully submitted,
MILLER & ZOIS, LLC

John B. Bratt
1 South St, #2450
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410)779-4600
(410)760-8922 (Fax)
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs

Moreover, “only in rare instances is it proper to submit to the jury the issue of negligence or contributory negligence on the part of the favored driver.” Dunnill v. Bloomberg, 228 Md. 230, 253, 179 A.2d 371, 374 (1962). “Nor does the fact that the favored driver was (as we must assume) exceeding the speed limit somewhat of itself constitute negligence or excuse the defendant’s negligence.” Id.

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