COA upholds guest statute in auto injury case

September 11, 2015

An attempt to revive old constitutional arguments against Indiana’s guest statute failed to gain traction with the Indiana Court of Appeals.

After being severely injured in an auto accident, Sheila Sasso filed a negligence claim against her mother, Mary Sasso. Sheila was a passenger in the car her mother was driving when the crash occurred.

The Montgomery Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. Sheila Sasso  appealed, asserting Indiana’s guest statute violated the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.

However, the Court of Appeals cited Sidle v. Majors and Collins v. Day which upheld the constitutionality of the statute. In a footnote, the appellate court observed that Sheila Sasso was “obviously incorrect” when she maintained the 7th Circuit concluded the state guest statute violated the 14th Amendment.

The Court of Appeals concluded that under the plain text of Indiana’s guest statute, Mary Sasso is not liable for her daughter’s injuries.

The case is Sheila Sasso and Mary Sasso v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 54A05-1411-PL-527.




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