An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-1476


Filed: 21 October 2003


    v .                             Pender County
                                No. 99 CVS 407

    Appeal by plaintiff from judgment filed 19 April 2002 by Judge Charles H. Henry in Pender County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 28 August 2003.

    Lea, Clyburn & Rhine, P.L.L.C., by Christopher A. Chleborowicz; and Eldridge Law Firm, P.C., by James E. Eldridge, for plaintiff-appellant.

    Anderson, Daniel & Coxe, by Bradley A. Coxe, for defendant- appellees.

    BRYANT, Judge.

    Larry Waddell McAllister (plaintiff) appeals from a judgment entered 19 April 2002 consistent with a jury verdict in favor of defendants Dedicated Services, Inc. (the corporation) and Ellis Clayton Williams (Williams), individually and as an agent of the corporation, on plaintiff's negligence claim.
    On 11 May 1999, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging injuries caused by Williams' negligent operation of a trailer truck. The complaint further alleged that because Williams was an employee of the corporation, the corporation was vicariously liable for Williams' negligence.    The evidence at trial revealed that on 20 June 1997, Williams drove a trailer truck over the center yellow line of a two-lane highway. Williams stopped on the highway and began backing his truck across both lanes and into a side road. Williams testified that he had performed the same maneuver for ten or eleven years, and that the backing maneuver was safer than driving straight into the side road. Simultaneously, plaintiff was driving a pickup truck on the same highway toward Williams but from the opposite direction. Williams did not notice plaintiff's truck, which was traveling toward him from a distance at an allegedly high rate of speed, until after he had begun backing up. Williams stopped his truck, which remained on the center yellow line, to prevent plaintiff's truck from hitting the fuel tank of the trailer truck, and flashed his lights. Both trucks collided, and plaintiff suffered injuries.
    During the trial, plaintiff presented evidence to show Williams had violated several state statutes. The applicable statutes referred to require a driver to: (1) yield the right-of- way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction before that driver makes a left turn, (2) drive on the right half of the highway, and (3) avoid stopping or temporarily leaving the vehicle on the highway. See N.C.G.S. §§ 20-155(b), 20-146(b), 161(b) (2001). Plaintiff moved for a directed verdict on the issue of Williams' negligence. The trial court denied the motion.
    The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants, answering in the negative the question “Was the plaintiff . . . injured bythe negligence of the defendants . . . ?” Plaintiff moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and, alternatively, a new trial. The trial court denied both motions.


    The dispositive issue on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to support a jury verdict for defendants on the issue of proximate cause. Specifically, plaintiff contends the trial court erred in denying his motions for directed verdict, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and a new trial because Williams' violation of several traffic safety statutes established his liability for negligence. We disagree.
    In considering a motion for directed verdict, the trial court must view the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Summer v. Allran, 100 N.C. App. 182, 183, 394 S.E.2d 689, 690 (1990). A motion for directed verdict should be denied if the evidence is sufficient to be submitted to the jury. A motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is to be “entered in accordance with an earlier directed verdict motion.” Smith v. Childs, 112 N.C. App. 672, 682, 437 S.E.2d 500, 507 (1993). As such, the same standards are used to review both motions. Id.
    A violation of a safety statute is negligence per se, i.e., a breach of a legal duty. Aldridge v. Hasty, 240 N.C. 353, 359, 82 S.E.2d 331, 337 (1954); Adams v. Mills, 312 N.C. 181, 192, 322 S.E.2d 164, 171 (1984). For such a violation to be actionable, however, proximate cause for the injuries must also be shown. SeeAldridge, 240 N.C. at 359, 82 S.E.2d at 337 (holding the defendant violated safety statutes by recklessly turning his vehicle left and proximately caused injuries to the plaintiff pedestrian when a third party swerved his car to avoid collision with the defendant's vehicle and thereby hit the plaintiff pedestrian); see also Adams, 312 N.C. at 195, 322 S.E.2d at 173 (holding the trial court erred in refusing to submit the issue of the plaintiff's contributory negligence to the jury because assuming the plaintiff violated a statute prohibiting stopping a vehicle on a highway, the plaintiff may have proximately caused the defendant's injuries as the defendant's continued driving toward the plaintiff while the defendant was blinded by the sun may be foreseeable). Whether the violation of a safety statute is the proximate cause of an injury is for the jury to determine. Adams, 312 N.C. at 192, 32 S.E.2d at 171.
    In the case sub judice, the evidence raises a question of fact as to whether Williams violated certain safety statutes and, if so, whether such violations proximately caused plaintiff's injuries. Probative of the issue of proximate cause is the evidence presented regarding: the safety of Williams' method of backing into a side road, the distance between the two trucks when Williams first saw plaintiff's truck, Williams' flashing his lights at the moment of stopping in an attempt to alert plaintiff, and the alleged high rate of speed plaintiff was traveling just prior to impact. Because such evidence viewed in a light most favorable to Williams was sufficient for the jury to determine that Williams was notliable for plaintiff's injuries, the trial court did not err in denying plaintiff's motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict. In addition, the evidence does not indicate that the trial court abused its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for a new trial. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying the motion. See Taylor v. Ellerby, 146 N.C. App. 56, 58, 552 S.E.2d 667, 669 (2001).
    No error.
    Judges McGEE and GEER concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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