Lopez v. United States, No. 14-2159 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Lopez was a passenger in a car driven in St. Louis by Pyron. The lane in which they were driving ended at an intersection. Pyron merged into the lane where Cleveland's postal truck was traveling; the vehicles collided. The collision pushed Pyron's car a short distance into the intersection, but its air bags did not deploy. She pulled over and later drove her car home. Photographs show only minor damage to her car. Lopez filed a negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2671–2680. Officer McKern testified that based on her investigation she believed Cleveland's account of the collision and that in her experience similar accidents occurred frequently at the intersection. At the close of trial Lopez argued that under Missouri law there is a presumption of negligence on the part of the driver of a vehicle colliding into the rear of another and that no evidence had been presented to rebut this presumption. The district court rejected the argument, finding that Lopez was not credible, that Pyron's own testimony showed she was at fault, and that Officer McKern was believable. Cleveland had died of unrelated causes. The Eighth Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of the government.