Torts I, Pages 225–228

Ney v. Yellow Cab Co.

Illinois Supreme Court, 1954

Facts:

Defendant's employee left taxi running unattended, a violation of the Uniform Traffic Act. A thief stole it and hit plaintiff's vehicle.

Procedural History:

Trial and appellate courts fixed liability on the defendant for violation of a section of the Uniform Traffic Act.

Issue:

Was it negligent to violate the Uniform Traffic Act by leaving the keys in the car attended?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Defendant's violation of the statute was negligence and the proximate cause of the damage. Statue is a safety measure for the benefit of the public. Regardless of the statute, there would be a common-law liability under the same circumstances.

Defendant's Argument:

Acts or omissions of the defendant did not constitute actionable negligence nor the proximate cause of the damage. This statute is not an anti-theft measure but is a traffic regulation, so it is not intended to prevent this.

Reasoning:

It is unclear what the legislative intent of this law was, but it appears to be concerned with public safety. Plaintiff is then correct that it is intended to prevent harms such as this one, which would have been prevented if the law was complied with.

Holding:

Yes, the violation of the statute is prima facie evidence of negligence under the prevailing rule of Illinois. Judgment affirmed.

Dissenting Opinion:

Hershey: By the majority's admission, the statute is a safety measure, not an anti-theft statute. This act was intended to prevent against more accidental starting of the vehicle, not theft, and therefore shouldn't be said to prevent this.


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