Boerjan v. Rodriguez, 2014 Tex. LEXIS 531 (Tex. June 27, 2014)
Jose Maciel was transporting a family from Mexico to a location within the United States. Mr. Maciel trespassed on a ranch while transporting the family and was stopped by a ranch employee. He then fled and was followed by the ranch employee. The vehicle subsequently rolled over and the family was tragically killed. The decedents’ family filed suit and the ranch moved for no-evidence summary judgment on the gross negligence claim.
The Court’s Analysis:
The Court began by noting that the chase: (1) was extended, (2) non-aggressive, (3) lacked indication of close proximity for the vehicles, and (4) lacked indication of its speed. Because of this, the Court said it was left with only an inference that did not rise to the level of a likelihood of serious injury to the decedents.
What to Take Away:
The objective element for gross negligence requires specific, objective manifestations of an extreme risk of harm. The surrounding circumstances of the case will not suffice unless they point directly to a specific act that is commonly viewed as disregarding the safety of others.