she heard noises and she recalled that the brakes were "soft" and needed "pumping." Id. 40. She stated, "the brakes did not seem to have the pumping action they should have for new breaks." Id. 39. Mrs. Quigley mentioned the brake problems to her husband several times, but "he always implied that there was nothing wrong with brakes." Id. 40.
On November 6, 1986, Mrs. Quigley drove the car to work. Id. 41. She continued to hear noises from the car, which were "louder and more persistent." Id. When she arrived at work she mentioned the problem to her supervisor, Joey Gray, who she stated works on cars. Id. 41-42. After she described the problem to Mr. Gray, he told her he thought it was her brakes and she should speak to her husband about it. Id. 43-44. He offered to look at her brakes; however, Mrs. Quigley stated she would mention the problem to her husband and Mr. Gray never looked at the brakes. Id. 44.
After leaving work with a friend in her car, Mrs. Quigley recalls that the brakes were soft and they did not have "the fullness that it should have had." Id. 45. As she was driving she almost hit a car. Id. 46. She stated, "it seems as if to me, it was a stop sign where I was supposed to stop, and cars were coming across, and, I almost hit a car, I said, Oh, that was a real close one." Id. After the near collision, she dropped off her friend. Id. She continued to drive the car and drove onto I-95 to proceed home. Id. She recalls that there was a "low-keyed" noise that was "louder than it had been that morning." Id. 47. She continued to drive, "hoping to get home" to inform her husband of the problems. Id. Before Mrs. Quigley was able to get home, she was in an accident. She recalls that a tractor-trailer was close behind her and that she wanted to get to the right side of the road and stop, because she was "frightened with the noise." Id. 50. She recalls that she was going 70 to 75 miles per hour. Id. 51. She kept hitting her brakes, but the car picked up momentum. Id. 52. In addition, the car was going down hill. Id. She does not recall how the car came to a stop. Id. 53. She only remembers that the tractor-trailer driver asked her if she was "okay." Id. 54.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has stated "ordinarily questions of negligence, contributory negligence and proximate cause, especially in automobile collision cases are for determination by the jury." Singer v. Doyle, 236 A.2d 436, 437 (D.C. App. 1967). Further, the Court of Appeals stated that "only in exceptional cases, where the facts are undisputed and where but one reasonable inference can be drawn, is the trial court justified in holding that negligence or contributory negligence has been established as a matter of law." Id. at 438.
Rarely is a court in a position to conclude that a party was negligent or contributorily negligent as a matter of law. However, if there is a situation where a court can find contributory negligence as a matter of law, this is such a case. Mrs. Quigley was clearly on notice that her car had brake problems. Before the accident, she stated that she was nearly in two accidents. Further, after she described the problem to her supervisor, he responded that it was brake problems. Moreover, she indicated to her friend, just before the accident, that there was something wrong with her car.
Although Mrs. Quigley has submitted an affidavit, in which she states "none of the problems that I had experienced were serious enough to lead me to believe that I would be involved in an automobile accident if I kept driving the vehicle", the facts do not support such a conclusion. The facts are undisputed and there is but one reasonable inference that can be drawn, and that is that the plaintiffs were contributorily negligent.
For the reasons discussed above, the Court concludes that defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted and this case should be dismissed. An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum.
ORDER - July 19, 1990, Filed
For the reasons discussed in the accompanying Memorandum, the Court concludes that the defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted.
It is hereby
ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, it is further
ORDERED that this case is dismissed with prejudice.