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Text message sender off the hook in car accident lawsuit

A New Jersey judge ruled that it is ultimately the driver's responsibility to operate the vehicle safely.

A New Jersey judge ruled today that a person sending a text message cannot be held liable for an ensuing car accident caused when the recipient replied to it, a CBS New York article reported.

Shannon Colonna was recently named in a lawsuit brought by two motorcyclists injured in a distracted-driving accident in 2009.David and Linda Kubert each lost part of their left legs when a truck driven by Kyle Best struck their motorcycle. Best pleaded guilty to using a handheld cell phone while driving, careless driving, and failure to maintain a lane, and was sentenced to $775 in fines and community service delivering anti-distracted-driving lectures to 14 high schools, reported The Daily Record.

However, in addition to naming Best in their damages lawsuit, they recently added his then-girlfriend Shannon Colonna to the suit. The Kuberts' lawyer argued that by engaging in back-and-forth texting with someone she knew was driving, she encouraged the illegal practice. Colonna's lawyer requested dismissal from the lawsuit, saying the sender assumed the text message would be read at a safe time.

Superior Court Judge David Rand presided over the case and ruled today, dismissing Colonna from the suit, explaining that it is ultimately up to the driver to operate the vehicle safely. He said that by extending liability to the text message sender, any distraction in a vehicle could be the basis of a lawsuit, reported WCBS 880.

(Via CBS New York)