My great grandfather's brother, Albert was a World War I veteran who was killed while driving his brother Paul's motorcycle by a drunk driver. His widow and child sued the driver and his mother and won. The mother's appeals eventually reached the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict that she was guilty of negligence.
COKER et al. v. MOOSE et al.
SUPREME COURT OF OKLAHOMA
180 Okla. 234; 68 P.2d 504; 1937 Okla. LEXIS 631
February 2, 1937, Decided
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: In a wrongful death action brought by plaintiff survivors against defendants, a mother and a son, the mother appealed from the judgment of the Superior Court, Seminole County (Oklahoma) that awarded damages in favor of the survivors.
OVERVIEW: The survivors were the widow and another relative of the decedent who was killed after being struck by a car that was driven by the son. The evidence revealed that the son was a known alcoholic and that at the time of the accident empty beer bottles were found in his car. The complaint alleged that the mother knew that her son was a careless, reckless, and incompetent driver and that she knew of a number of serious accidents that he had had. However, the mother gave the son free access to an automobile and paid the repair bills after his accidents. A jury awarded damages in favor of the survivors, and the court affirmed. It held that an error in the jury instructions was harmless and could not have prejudiced defendants in view of the evidence in the case. The court further held that there was no evidence that the jury ever was aware that either defendant was protected by insurance. The court reduced the amount of the verdict, however, because it found that the award was excessive based upon the decedent's history of earnings.
OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment, but it reduced the amount of damages permitted.