The opinion of the court was delivered by
This is a wrongful death case brought by Bonnie Hammig against
Thomas Ford. The District Court of Johnson County granted summary
judgment in favor of defendant Ford. The propriety of that order
is the controlling issue before us.
Thomas Ford was driving north on Metcalf Avenue in Overland
Park, Kansas, on November 21, 1985. James Brooks was driving
south on the same thoroughfare. Brooks, in making a left turn
onto 107th Street, collided with the Ford vehicle. Brooks fled
the scene by proceeding east on 107th. As soon as it was apparent
to Ford that Brooks was not going to stop, he followed Brooks in
order to obtain his license number.
Shortly east of Metcalf, 107th Street makes an S curve;
thereafter, it is straight all the way to Lamar, one-half mile
east of Metcalf. The two cars sped east on 107th, with speeds
reaching 60 miles per hour, although the speed limit was 30 or 35
miles per hour. Neither Brooks nor Ford remembers any other
traffic on 107th. Brooks testified by deposition that, after
about a block, he became aware that Ford was following him, but
that was not why he was speeding; he was determined to leave the
scene and go to Missouri. He did not want to be arrested for
driving without a license.
Even though Brooks had a head start, Ford was able to catch up
to him and to read his license number. Ford then pulled over to
the side of the street, about a half block west of Lamar, to
write down the number. Brooks, however, did not stop or slow
down. He proceeded to speed into the four-way stop intersection
at Lamar, and in doing so collided with another vehicle in which
Bret Hammig was a passenger. Hammig died of injuries sustained in
This action is brought by Hammig's widow and sole heir, Bonnie
Hammig, individually and as administratrix of his estate. Suit
was commenced against Brooks; Brooks' parents, who were the
owners of the car he was driving; and Ford. Summary judgment was
entered in favor of Brooks' mother. Later, plaintiffs claims
against Brooks and his father were settled, and an order was
issued dismissing those claims with prejudice. The orders
relating to the claims against Brooks and his parents are final,
and no appeal has been taken from them.
DISTRICT COURT'S DISPOSITION
Defendant Ford moved for summary judgment, and the trial court
"that there are no material issues of fact remaining,
and that reasonable minds cannot differ as to the
fact that the actions or inactions of defendant Ford
did not in any way cause or contribute to cause the
collision between the Brooks and Hammig vehicles.
Therefore, the Court finds that the defendant Ford is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law."