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Tort News February 10, 2011


Chief Judge John C. Martin affirmed the defendant city’s grant of summary judgment that plaintiff was contributorily negligent.  Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who was ‘appreciably impaired’.   Judge Martin wrote, “…by voluntarily riding and continuing to ride with Ms. Polumbo under such circumstances and conditions as would have compelled an ordinarily prudent man in the exercise of ordinary care for his own safety to not ride with the ‘appreciably impaired’ Ms. Polumbo, Ms. May committed an act of contributory negligence which proximately contributed to her injuries and death as a matter of law, and which bars any recovery from ACS or the city for her death.”

Ms. Polumbo’s blood alcohol level was .17 when she crashed her vehicle into a red light camera pole which fell onto the top of her car, crushing the roof, and killing the plaintiff’s decedent, Elizabeth May.  Polumbo pleaded guilty in 2008 to felony death by vehicle, reckless driving, driving while impaired and driving after consuming alcohol while under the age of 21.  She was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus three years of probation.


N.C. Senate Bill S33 has been introduced focused on a wish list of medical malpractice tort reform.  Among the items up for debate:

  • Bifurcation of Liability and Damages
  • Limited liability against emergency room doctors (gross negligence required)
  • $250,000 cap on non-economic damages
  • Future payments of economic damages
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