(MORRISTOWN, N.J.) — A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that a woman who sent a text message to her boyfriend while he was driving cannot be held liable for the motor vehicle accident he subsequently caused.
The decision stemmed from a 2009 case in which Kyle Best, 19, was responding to a text message from his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, 19, while he was driving his pickup truck when he crashed into a motorcycle and severely injured David and Linda Kubert.
In an unprecedented legal twist, the Kuberts’ attorney, Stephen “Skippy” Weinstein, amended the original complaint filed against Best to include Colonna as a defendant in the case, saying that she had been in frequent texting contact with Best throughout the day and ought to have known he was driving.
However, Judge David Rand ruled on Friday in Morris County Superior Court that Colonna could not be held responsible for Best’s distracted driving.
“Drivers are bombarded with all forms of distractions,” Rand told the courtroom. “I find that there was no aiding, abetting here in the legal sense. I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the defendant in this case under these facts. Were I to extend this duty, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as basis of a liability case.”
Proceedings against Best, who pleaded guilty to distracted driving, will continue within the next few months.
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