This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


Gregory G. Galler,


Ruth H. Arnason-Moe,

Filed January 4, 2000
Crippen, Judge

Washington County District Court
File No. C199422

Thomas J. Weidner, Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling, P.L.L.P., 1835 Northwestern Avenue, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for respondent)

Jim Kremer, 3920 Northwoods Drive, Arden Hills, MN 55112 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Davies, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant disputes the trial court's summary judgment that she was fully responsible as a matter of law for a collision involving two motor vehicles. We reverse and remand.


Immediately before the accident that produced this suit, respondent Gregory Galler was driving southbound on a Stillwater street. Appellant Ruth Arnason-Moe was about to cross the same street, driving from a parking lot to an intersecting street. Appellant began crossing the street just as respondent approached and respondent struck the passenger side of appellant's car, near the rear wheel. Respondent, claiming appellant negligently caused the collision, sued for property damages only, in the amount of $1,500. The trial court subsequently granted summary judgment to respondent on his claim.[1]


Respondent is entitled to summary judgment only upon a showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993). Under the circumstances, it was error to conclude as a matter of law that appellant was 100% at fault for the accident.

Because questions of negligence involve issues of causation and reasonableness, which are more suitable for jury consideration, they are usually inappropriate for summary judgment. See Teas v. Minneapolis St. Ry. Co., 244 Minn. 427, 434, 70 N.W.2d 358, 363 (1955) (finding that it is "only in the clearest of cases that the question of negligence becomes one of law"). Only when there are undisputed material facts that compel one conclusion as a matter of law may a trial court enter summary judgment on the issue of negligence. Sauter v. Sauter, 244 Minn. 482, 486, 70 N.W.2d 351, 354 (1955); see also Abo El Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580, 582-83 (Minn. App. 1991).

Appellant, whose vehicle was struck on its right rear side, points to evidence that respondent admitted he could have avoided the collision if it had not been for rainy conditions. There may be merit in the trial court's conclusion that respondent's failure to avoid the accident did not preclude a finding that appellant was negligent, but the evidence destroys the cause for judgment that there was no fault whatsoever on respondent's part.

The trial court could not attribute all fault to appellant on the basis of a witness's affidavit that respondent was driving appropriately under the circumstances. See, e.g., Gordon v. Herzog, 410 N.W.2d 405, 409 (Minn. App. 1987) (several issues, including questions of comparative fault and genuine material facts, precluded summary judgment: "[a]ppellant is entitled to advance his theories to a jury and an opportunity to prove his negligence was at most equal to respondents").

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to appellant, as we must, see Fabio, 504 N.W.2d at 761, the evidence creates a genuine issue of material fact as to whether some fault is attributable to respondent regarding his speed and his lookout under the circumstances.


[1] The trial court order granted judgment for respondent without acting on appellant's counterclaim. We have nonetheless determined that the court's judgment was final and appealable because, as it finds appellant completely at fault, it necessarily implies a denial of her counterclaim.