First Transit, Inc. v. ChernikoffAnnotate this Case
In this case concerning a mentally disabled passenger who suffered a non-transportation-related injury on the bus the Supreme Court determined that the district court erred by instructing the jury that the bus company owed a duty to "use the highest degree of care" toward the passenger, holding that the bus company did not need to do more than that which was reasonable under the circumstances in rendering aid to the passenger.
The passenger, an intellectually disabled man, choked to death on a sandwich while riding on a paratransit bus operated by Defendant, the bus company. Plaintiffs sued Defendant's bus driver for negligence, arguing that Defendant, as a common carrier, owed the highest degree of care to monitor and assist the passenger while riding the bus. The jury found Defendant liable for the passenger's death. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in instructing the jury that Defendant owed the passenger more than an ordinary duty of reasonable care under the circumstances; and (2) the erroneous instruction led the jury to misapply the "additional care" instruction applicable to the passenger.