Stephens v. CSX TransportationAnnotate this Case
This negligence action arose out of a collision involving a train and an automobile at a railroad crossing. Petitioner Willie Stephens, as Guardian ad Litem for his minor granddaughter who suffered a traumatic brain injury while a passenger in her mother's vehicle, filed suit against CSX Transportation, Inc. and the South Carolina Department of Transportation ("SCDOT"). A jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants, and Petitioner appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding the trial judge did not err in admitting certain evidence, charging the jury, and in denying Petitioner's motions for a directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV"). The South Carolina Supreme Court granted Petitioner's request for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the Court of Appeals regarding the denial of Petitioner's JNOV motion and the jury charge issues that it addressed. However, the Court found the Court of Appeals erred in restricting its analysis only to those jury charge issues related to the breach of CSX's and SCDOT's duty of reasonable care. Because portions of the judge's charge were erroneous and prejudiced Petitioner, the case was reversed and remanded for a new trial.