Impson v. Structural Metals, Inc.
487 S.W.2d 694 (Tex. 1972)
The driver of a Structural
Metals truck attempted to pass a car within 100 feet of an intersection.
There was a collision injuring and killing several people. One of the
injured people, Impson, sued for negligence.
There was a Statute saying
that passing a car within 100 feet of an intersection is a traffic
The Trial Court found for
Impson. Structural Metals appealed.
The Trial Court found that
the driver was involved in a traffic violation, therefore, he was
automatically negligent as a
matter of law.
Basically, the jury didn't
need to decide if the driver was negligent or not, they were just told to assume he was.
Structural Metals argued
that negligence was not a matter
of law based solely on whether the driver broke a traffic law, but needed
to be submitted to a jury.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court agreed
that Structural Metals can only be found liable for negligent as a matter
The Court noted that Restatement
of Torts ¤288A states that an
excused violation of a legislative enactment is not negligence.
Basically, if you violate a
law, but there is some mitigating circumstance, you can still be found
guilty of violating the law, but you aren't necessarily negligent.
Therefore, it's for a jury
to decide if there were excuses or mitigating circumstances. Negligence can't be decided as a matter of law.
However, in this case, no
evidence was presented at trial that there were mitigating circumstances or
legally acceptable excuses, so Structural Metals was out of luck.
Basically, this case said that
just because you broke the law, that doesn't automatically mean that you
are negligent. However, you have to
have had a good reason to have broken the law in order to be not-negligent.