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Case Law Update: Summary Judgment in Automobile Accidents

Evans v. Brown, No. 4-09-0407 (3-23-10) reversed a circuit court decision which found that a car salesman, while driving company car, swerved over centerline of highway and hit another car which then hit Plaintiff, who suffered severe head injuries. Salesman told a coworker he blacked out and fell asleep and had a car accident; and salesman then died same evening. Physician opined that salesman had suffered sudden change in heart rate due to heart attack he must have suffered a week prior. Court’s grant summary judgment for Defendant on basis that loss of consciousness was “act of God” improper, because Plaintiff had established prima facie case of negligence, and driver’s statement that he fell asleep created genuine issue of material fact, as possible inferences suggested that cardiac event may not have been sole and proximate cause of collision. This Illinois case will have an effect on automobile accident law.