The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that “a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is diving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.”
In the case before the Court, the 17-year-old texter Shannon Colonna sent her 18-year-old friend Kyle Best a text less than 30 seconds before he was involved in a serious crash with two motorcyclists. The plaintiffs in the case brought a claim against Best and Colonna. The plaintiffs settled with the driver. Colonna then filed a motion for summary judgment. The appellate court held that in this particular case, there was insufficient evidence to prove that Colonna had knowledge that Best would read and respond to her texts while driving.
“Even if a reasonable inference can be drawn that she sent messages requiring responses, the act of sending such messages, by itself, is not active encouragement that the recipient read the text and respond immediately, that is, while driving and in violation of the law,” said the Court.