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GIBSON v. UNITED STATES

July 24, 1958

ANDREW J. GIBSON AND PACIFIC INDEMNITY COMPANY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

Findings of Fact

1.

The plaintiff, Andrew J. Gibson, is a citizen and resident of Franklin County, Arkansas. The plaintiff, Pacific Indemnity Company, is a corporation authorized to do business in the State of Arkansas. The defendant is the United States of America.

2.

The highway is approximately 60 feet wide, the north half being 30 feet 5 inches wide, and the south half being 29 feet 8½ inches wide. When cars are parked at an angle on the south side of the highway, the clearance remaining between the rear of the cars and the center of the highway is approximately 15 feet 7 inches.

At the time of the collision the surface of the highway was concrete, and the center of the highway had been marked with a dashed white line. However, the white line was obliterated to a large extent by oil tracked along the highway from nearby construction work.

3.

Immediately prior to the collision the plaintiff, Andrew J. Gibson, had been attending to some business at Moore's Hatchery, where he was employed, and had parked his car on the west side of Hancock Street about 40 or 50 feet north of Highway 22. After completing the business, he returned to his car and started driving in a southerly direction toward Highway 22. Upon reaching Highway 22, he made a wide turn to the right or west going toward his home. He did not stop at the intersection with Highway 22, but merely slowed down. He proceeded west on Highway 22, driving fairly close to the center line of the highway at a speed of about 15 miles per hour for approximately 100 feet before the collision involved herein occurred.

4.

The other vehicle involved in the collision was a 2½ ton Army truck being driven by John Smith, an enlisted man stationed at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. The truck was the fourth vehicle in a 15-vehicle military convoy which was traveling in an easterly direction on Highway 22. Upon reaching the town of Charleston the convoy slowed its speed to approximately 15 to 20 miles per hour and proceeded through the town. As Smith's truck approached the intersection of Hancock Street and Highway 22, it was being driven mostly in the south lane of traffic, but at least a foot or a foot and a half of the left side of the truck was extending over the center line of the highway. Apparently Smith either was not paying close attention to where he was driving, or he was driving as far to the left as he could because of fear that one of the automobiles parked at an angle on the south side of the highway might back out in his path. Actually, Smith had ample clearance to drive his truck completely on his right or south side of the highway.

5.

As the plaintiff's car and the truck driven by Smith approached each other, the former traveling in a westerly direction and the latter traveling in an easterly direction, the drivers continued driving on a comparative straight course until their vehicles collided. It was dark and the headlights of both vehicles were burning. The point of impact was between the left front of plaintiff's car and the left front of the truck driven by Smith. The exact point on the highway of the impact was approximately 28 inches north of the center line. Immediately prior to the impact neither Gibson nor Smith attempted to turn or swerve to the right to avoid the collision, although each of them had adequate room to turn to the right and to prevent the collision.

After the impact Gibson's automobile traveled about 30 feet in a northwesterly direction, and came to a stop in the north half of the highway. The Army truck driven by Smith traveled about 60 feet straight down the highway and came to a stop with the left rear ...


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