Washington Law Review


The facts of the case are as spare and clean cut as though invented to raise its issue. Joyce Akins, sixteen, was invited by Robbie Hemphill to ride with him in his car; it was not until they had proceeded some way on their journey that she discovered he was intoxicated and driving in an incressingly reckless manner. Frightened, she demanded repeatedly to be let out; he heard, refused, increased his speed, and presently collided with the rear of another car to Joyce's severe and permanent injury. A general demurrer to her complaint was sustained and upon her refusal to plead further judgment was entered dismissing her action. This judgment was affirmed en banc on appeal. It is a clear guest statute problem, uncontaminated by any suggestion of contributory negligence or assumption of risk, and, since on demurrer, without the usual controversy over the facts. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for an analysis of the host-guest relationship, a thoughtful probing into the background and purposes of the statute itself. Instead, the majority opinion is content to rest upon authority "we are committed (to the rule) that when she became a guest of the respondent driver, she became one for the entire journey, and did not terminate the host-guest relationship by her demands." This is a neat and economical solution, but to make it also an acceptable one it is necessary to inquire into the matter of whether the court is in fact committed to the rule it cites, and secondly, even if it is so committed, whether that rule is a sensible one.

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