A jury in South Dakota is set to decide whether the 18-year-old driver of a Ford Focus will be liable in the death of a motorcyclist in a 2009 accident at a busy intersection.
Motorcyclist Tommy Little, 60 years old at the time, was driving his Harley north on Westport Avenue near Sioux Falls on July 25, 2009. Nick Rezac, 18 years old, was driving southbound, and went to turn east. In so doing, he drove into Little’s path and struck his motorcycle. Little died two days after the accident.
Rezac faced criminal charges of failure to yield. He did not accept the charge, but a judge found him guilty after hearing the testimony of the officers who investigated the scene.
Attorneys for the Little family have filed the wrongful death suit as a followup, claiming that Rezac’s negligence was clearly demonstrated by his failure to yield. They asserted in their documents and opening statements that it was unambiguously clear that Little’s motorcycle was oncoming at the time of the accident. Rezac’s decision to turn anyway showed negligence and a careless disregard for the safety of other drivers around him.
Attorneys for the Little family attempted to receive a summary judgment on the case, claiming that the fact that Mr. Little screamed audibly before the impact showed that Rezac was knowingly operating his vehicle recklessly. The judge for the case declined to issue the summary judgment however, saying that a jury would need to decide the case. He opined that a motorcyclist might reasonably assume someone might turn across his path in heavy traffic, and the traffic was heavy at the time of the accident due to an airshow that was in the area. Officers at the scene described the traffic as comparable to Christmastime shopping traffic.
The court case is set to begin on October 22nd.