In Naphtali v. Lafazan, defendant and his wife accepted the invitation of plaintiffs, husband and wife, to accompany them on a pleasure trip in an auto owned by plaintiff-husband. It was understood that the expenses of operating the auto were to be borne by plaintiff-husband. As the party proceeded along an Ohio highway, with the defendant driving, the auto left the highway and overturned, injuring the plaintiffs. Suit was instituted in New York, alleging defendant’s ordinary negligence and praying damages for the injuries sustained. Defendant relied upon the Ohio Guest Statute, arguing that plaintiffs were “guests” in the auto and therefore could not recover in the absence of proof of defendant's gross negligence. Two interesting questions were thus presented: (1) Was the plaintiff-owner a “guest” in his own auto, and (2) was the owner’s wife a “guest”? Though there were no Ohio cases in point, the New York Supreme Court held, inter alia, that the owner might recover on proof of defendant’s ordinary negligence, as it was not the intention of the Ohio Legislature to make an owner a “guest” in his own auto. On complicated reasoning, however, plaintiff-wife was found to be a guest and was denied recovery, since there was no proof of defendant’s gross negligence.
Lawrence C. Sandberg,
Negligence—Guest Statute—Owner as a Guest—Wife as a Guest,
37 Neb. L. Rev. 467
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