Woman Sued for Texting a Driver?

By: Michael Seinberg

Attorney Stephen “Skippy” Weinstein has expanded a lawsuit in a way that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t be given a breathalyzer test to determine if he’s suing while intoxicated.

Skippy has filed suit in New Jersey against Shannon Colonna because she was texting Kyle Best while he was driving and had an accident back in 2009. Best struck David and Linda Kubert’s motorcycle and both lost their left legs in the accident. Nobody denies Best’s culpability in the accident as he has already plead guilty to three motor vehicle infractions: using a hand-held cell phone while driving, careless driving, and failure to maintain a lane. He was fined $775 and ordered to speak about the dangers of texting while driving to 14 high schools. Not surprisingly Skippy is suing Best and he would seem to have a case. However, pursuing a case against Colonna for sending text messages is going too far.

“She may not have been physically present, but she was electronically present,” said Skippy. Really? I’m not sure, by that logic, if Skippy is present in any sense of the word.

Colonna’s lawyer, Joseph McGlone has asked that the charges against his client be dismissed. “The sender of the text has the right to assume the recipient will read it at a safe time,” said McGlone in court documents.

If Colonna was in the car at the time and was actively distracting Best, that would be one thing. But she was not in the car and while she might have known he was driving, she did not force him to text or read a text while he was supposed to be watching the road.  In any case, if this case is allowed to move forward, it would provide a platinum mine (this is way beyond the average gold mine) for trial attorneys who could now claim that anyone in contact with anyone at anytime could be liable for pretty much anything. Who is next on the list, the company who manufactured the cell phone? Or the satellite that transmitted the message?

If Skippy wins this one, he will be a very rich and famous lawyer. The rest of us will be far poorer. Maybe they can even name the decision after him. The “Darn Skippy Decision.”

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