Impson v. Structural Metals, Inc.
487 S.W.2d 694 (Tex. 1972)

  • The driver of a Structural Metals truck attempted to pass a car within 100 feet of an intersection. There was a collision injuring and killing several people. One of the injured people, Impson, sued for negligence.
    • There was a Statute saying that passing a car within 100 feet of an intersection is a traffic violation.
  • The Trial Court found for Impson. Structural Metals appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the driver was involved in a traffic violation, therefore, he was automatically negligent as a matter of law.
      • Basically, the jury didn’t need to decide if the driver was negligent or not, they were just told to assume he was.
    • Structural Metals argued that negligence was not a matter of law based solely on whether the driver broke a traffic law, but needed to be submitted to a jury.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court agreed that Structural Metals can only be found liable for negligent as a matter of fact.
    • The Court noted that Restatement of Torts ¤288A states that an excused violation of a legislative enactment is not negligence.
      • Basically, if you violate a law, but there is some mitigating circumstance, you can still be found guilty of violating the law, but you aren’t necessarily negligent.
      • Therefore, it’s for a jury to decide if there were excuses or mitigating circumstances. Negligence can’t be decided as a matter of law.
    • However, in this case, no evidence was presented at trial that there were mitigating circumstances or legally acceptable excuses, so Structural Metals was out of luck.
  • Basically, this case said that just because you broke the law, that doesn’t automatically mean that you are negligent. However, you have to have had a good reason to have broken the law in order to be not-negligent.