In a Middlesex County, New Jersey, case involving a Charter Bus accident, Laurence T. Bennett, Joseph Goldberg and Matthew G. Laver, prevailed on behalf of the defendants when Judge Richard Plechner granted Summary Judgment based upon the New Jersey Blackout Defense. This consolidated action originated with the defendant driver of a Charter Bus losing consciousness while behind the wheel of his bus and driving through a parking lot striking multiple vehicles. Subsequently, the owners of the damaged vehicles filed multiple Complaints against the defendant driver and his employer sounding in negligence theories. The defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that because the bus driver's loss of consciousness was sudden and unforeseeable, there was no valid claim for negligence under New Jersey law.
In granting the Motion for Summary Judgment, Judge Plechner explained that the defendants put forth evidence showing that their driver never experienced a sudden loss of consciousness prior to the accident at issue. Moreover, while the defendant driver's medical records suggested that he might be susceptible to a loss of consciousness, the Plaintiffs failed to obtain a medical expert to attest to this possibility. Without such an expert linking the loss of consciousness to a pre-existing condition, Judge Plechner opined that the Plaintiffs were "unable to defeat the black out defense raised by the defendants."
This case confirms the validity of the New Jersey Blackout Defense and that a driver will not be held liable for an accident stemming from a loss of consciousness if such loss of consciousness is sudden and unforeseeable.