Essay Question from the 2010 Civ Pro Exam
Essay Question 4.
P (a citizen of New York) sued D (a citizen of Connecticut) in the Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut under Connecticut law for negligence in connection with a car accident that occurred in Connecticut. P asked for $200,000 in damages. In his answer, D admitted P's damages and admitted that if he had been negligent, P's damages would be have been caused by this negligence. But D denied that he was negligent. After discovery, P moved for summary judgment, offering in support of his motion an affidavit from a witness who stated that she saw D texting at the time of the accident. D offered no evidence in opposition to the motion. Texting while driving is a violation of Connecticut traffic regulations. Furthermore, under Connecticut law, if the defendant is found to have violated the texting regulation, there is a presumption of negligence that can be overcome only through the introduction of contrary evidence by the defendant. Under Connecticut law, however, a jury is not required to accept the testimony of a witness, even if the witness is disinterested, uncontradicted, and unimpeached. In the case of Jones v. Smith, however, a federal court in Connecticut held (in the context of a federal civil rights action) that the testimony of a disinterested, uncontradicted, and unimpeached witness must be accepted by a jury. Jones v. Smith was affirmed by the First Circuit and the Supreme Court refused to grant cert. How should the federal court decide P's motion for summary judgment?
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