She got into the car and drove off having little or

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standing on a street with its motor running a few blocks from the hospital. She got into the car and drove off, having little or no control of the car. She soon collided with the plaintiff. Later she was adjudged mentally incompetent and committed to a state hospital. Johnson is not a case of sudden mental seizure with no forewarning. The defendant knew she was being treated for a mental disorder and hence would not have come under the no liability rule herein stated. [8] We think the statement that insanity is no defense is too broad when it is applied to a negligence case where the driver is suddenly overcome without forewarning by a mental disabil- ity or disorder which incapacitates him from conforming his conduct to the standards of a rea- sonable man under like circumstances. These are rare cases indeed, but their rarity is no reason for overlooking their existence and the justification which is the basis of the whole doctrine of li- ability for negligence, i.e., that it is unjust to hold a man responsible for his conduct which he is incapable of avoiding and which incapability was unknown to him prior to the accident. [9] We need not reach the question of contributory negligence of an insane person or the question of comparative negligence as those problems are not now presented.[FN3] All we hold is that a sudden mental incapacity equivalent in its effect to such physical causes as a sudden heart attack, epileptic seizure, stroke, or fainting should be treated alike and not under the general rule of insanity. [10] An interesting case holding this view in Canada is Buckley & Toronto Transp. Comm'n v. Smith Transport, Ltd., 1946 Ont.Rep. 798, 4 Dom.L.Rep. 721, which is almost identi- cal on the facts with the case at bar. There, the court found no negligence when a truck driver was overcome by a sudden insane delusion that his truck was being operated by remote control of his employer and as a result he was in fact helpless to avert a collision. [11] [The court then considered whether Mrs. Veith had any warning or knowledge that would reasonably lead her to believe that hallucinations would occur and be such as to affect her driving an automobile. It concluded that, notwithstanding the testimony of the psychiatrist that in his opinion she did not, there was sufficient evidence of her past conduct to permit the jury to 238
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conclude that she believed she had a special relationship to God and was the chosen one to sur- vive at the end of the world, and that she could believe that God would take over the direction of her life to the extent of driving her car. The question was held therefore to be properly left to the jury. Various other questions were also considered.] [12] Judgment affirmed . N OTES AND Q UESTIONS (1) Most courts do not make any allowance for the mental illness of the defendant—the defendant is judged by the standard of the reasonable person. See, for example , Johnson v. Lam- botte, 147 Colo. 203 (1961); Cross v. Kent, 32 Md. 581 (1870); Williams v. Hays, 143 N.Y. 442 (1894); Ellis v. Fixico, 174 Okl. 116 (1935). This has been true even in the case of “sudden in- sanity.” See Kuhn v. Zabotsky, 224 N.E.2d 137 (1967).
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