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Legal Analysis of Newberger v. Pokrass - A Negligence Case

A legal analysis of Newberger v. Pokrass in order to complete an IRAC assignment. Need to explain how the court concluded that a passenger, who is not the pilot-in-command, can acquire a duty to the pilot-in-command and share in the negligence when an accident occurs.

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Legal Analysis of Newberger v. Pokrass 27 Wis.2d 405, 134 N.W.2d 495 (1965) - A Negligence Case

This is a Wisconsin case involving general liability and modified comparative negligence. Since this case involves personal injury law in the state of Wisconsin, the system followed in this state is modified comparative negligence - 51% rule.

The three main issues in this case are the following:

1. The credibility of the evidence presented to sustain the jury's verdict that the appellant, Willard Pokrass (the pilot-in-command), was negligent.

2. The credibility of the evidence presented to sustain the jury's verdict apportioning the negligence between the respondent (plaintiff), Newberger (a non-pilot passenger) and the appellant, Willard Pokrass (the pilot-in-command).

3. Whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury regarding res ipsa loquitur.

Rule of Law:

1. The negligent act of falling asleep while operating a moving vehicle is a matter of law, reaffirming the Court's ruling in Theisen v. Milwaukee Auto. Mutual Ins. Co., 18 Wis. 2d 91, 118 N.W. 2d 140 (1962). The Theisen case established that a driver of a vehicle has a duty to stay awake. That falling asleep is not a mere happenstance or is accidental. The Court pointed out that when a driver falls asleep signs of fatigue or sleepiness occurs and therefore the driver is in control to either stay awake or not drive at all when the signs of sleepiness begins. The Theisen decision overruled past case law in Wisconsin that falling asleep in the wheel is excusable. The Theisen decision, however, recognized that if circumstances such as "injury inflicted by an outside force or fainting or heart attack, epileptic seizure, or other illness which suddenly incapacitates the driver. . . " do occur, these are excusable events as long as they were unforeseeable.

2. The apportionment of negligence is a ...

Solution Summary

This solution analyzes Newberger v. Pokrass 27 Wis.2d 405, 134 N.W.2d 495 (1965), a negligence case, raising the issue whether a non-pilot passenger shares in the negligence of the pilot-in-command when an accident occurs. The legal analysis of this case will assist a student to IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) this case. The facts of the case was not included as the student can get it from reading the case itself. This is a 1,310 word document.

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