Santiago v. First Student, Inc. – Case Brief
Santiago v. First Student, Inc., 839 A.2d 550 (R.I. 2004).
Facts: Santiago (P) alleged that she was a passenger on First Student’s (D) school bus when the bus collided with an unidentified vehicle on an unspecified day. Santiago was in the eighth grade and was returning home from school when the alleged accident took place. Santiago was unable to specify the date or location of the accident and was unable to offer details regarding the accident or the names of other students on the bus.
P sued D for injuries that she sustained when the right side of her face struck the seat in front of her. D moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no evidence to establish negligence on its part. It was granted and P appealed.
Issue: Does the mere occurrence of an accident, without more, warrant an inference that a defendant has been negligent?
Holding and Rule: No. A party’s negligence must affirmatively be established by competent evidence and may not be based on conjecture or speculation. P has the burden of presenting sufficient evidence to demonstrate the existence of a material question of fact. The court held that in this case P had not met that burden.