south of that intersection, and strolled across the street to just short of the median line, where he was struck by defendant. This version of events is far more favorable to plaintiff than that offered by defendant and the two witnesses, who stated that plaintiff walked out from between two parked cars in the middle of the block and stepped immediately into the path of defendant's oncoming car. Even so plaintiff's account of the accident demonstrates that he was contributorily negligent as a matter of law. By his own testimony, plaintiff crossed Wisconsin Avenue in an area which was neither a cross-walk nor an intersection, emerging from between parked cars at night wearing dark clothing, fully aware that a car was approaching. He then walked at a leisurely pace across three lanes without once looking to see whether he was correct in assuming that defendant would stop at the yellow light. It may be that a pedestrian crossing in a cross-walk, with a traffic light indicating that it is proper to cross, can reasonably assume that all traffic will stop and that he or she can cross without looking to the left or right. Plaintiff, however, crossed the street in an unmarked area at night, in a relatively darkened area, in violation of governing laws, see 18 D.C.M.R. §§ 2303 and 2304, knowing that a car was approaching a yellow light not far from him. Under these circumstances, plaintiff had a responsibility to exercise due care for his own safety, since he most certainly should have appreciated the danger in crossing when and where he did. It was wholly unreasonable, therefore, for plaintiff to walk in an unhurried fashion without looking to see whether defendant's car had actually stopped.
The fact that several people crossed the street safely shortly before him is entirely irrelevant. No reasonable juror could conclude that a pedestrian crossing in the middle of the street at night, fully aware that a car was approaching, was acting reasonably simply because others had crossed before him. It may be perfectly reasonable to cross a street at one moment, and suicidally dangerous the next; the reasonableness of a pedestrian's crossing of a street can only be judged at the moment he or she crosses it, and not at some time shortly before or after, when others cross. Moreover, it may be that the other pedestrians acted unreasonably too in crossing the street when they did, or that they crossed it much more rapidly than plaintiff. In any event, the mere fact that others had crossed the street before him in no way excuses plaintiff's failure to look to see if defendant's car had stopped. It was simply unreasonable for plaintiff to cross as he did in the middle of the block, with knowledge that a car was approaching, without looking around; that others crossed ahead of him in no way negates his inattentiveness or makes it reasonable.
So too, the fact that plaintiff believed a sign opposite him on Wisconsin Avenue indicated that it was appropriate to cross the street at that point
in no way excuses his heedlessness. The sign certainly did not guarantee his safety such that he could reasonably cross the street without paying any attention to defendant's car or any other traffic. The mere fact that plaintiff believed it was legal to cross the street in the middle of the block simply has no bearing on whether or not he exercised due care when he crossed; it clearly is not evidence from which a jury could find that his failure to watch for oncoming traffic was reasonable.
In sum, then, plaintiff crossed Wisconsin Avenue somewhere in the middle of the block at two in the morning wearing dark clothing in a dark area. He saw defendant's car approaching the Fessenden Street intersection about one-third of a city block to his north, but proceeded to cross anyway, in an unhurried, casual manner without looking around to see if defendant had stopped. Under the circumstances, plaintiff's inattentiveness was so unreasonable that no jury could properly conclude that he was not contributorily negligent. Nor could a jury reasonably infer that plaintiff acted in a reasonable manner based on his testimony concerning the yellow light on Wisconsin Avenue, the pedestrians who crossed before him, or the sign on the opposite side of the street: these facts in no way excuse his failure to exercise even the slightest caution when crossing a street at night in the middle of the block. In crossing when and where he did, plaintiff failed to exercise due care for his own safety. No reasonable jury could find otherwise.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant defendant's motion and enter judgment, notwithstanding the verdict, in favor of defendant. It is this 27th day of May, 1986.
In accordance with the Opinion issued this same day in this matter, judgment be and it hereby is entered in favor of defendant John H. Bynum, and against plaintiff Jose Garcia. The judgment of the jury, entered the 13th day of January, 1986, be and it is, therefore, set aside and vacated.