United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
DAVID C. NORTON, District Judge.
This matter is before the court for findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52. The court held a bench trial on February 24 and 25, 2014. Based on the evidence presented and heard on those dates, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Plaintiff Edna Jean Jenkins ("Jenkins") is 46 years old and resides in Walterboro, SC. Trial Tr. vol. 1 at 6.
2. Shana Crosby ("Crosby") is 38 years old and is employed by the government as a rural postal carrier. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 47-49.
3. On June 4, 2011, Jenkins was having a birthday party for her grandson at her house in Walterboro. Trial Tr. vol. 1 at 8-9. That afternoon, she drove to pick up her daughter's boyfriend, Oreantha Turner ("Turner"), who lives on Drain Road in Smoaks, SC. Id. at 8-10. Jenkins was driving a 2001 Ford Expedition. Id. at 8, 13.
4. Drain Road is a two lane rural road that is about two and a half miles from beginning to end. Id. at 10; Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 96. On the date of the accident, the weather was clear and it had not been raining. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 59.
5. While Jenkins was talking with Turner's mother in the yard, Jenkins saw a mail carrier, who she later learned was Crosby, stop by the mailbox. Trial Tr. vol. 1 at 8, 10. Crosby was driving a 2000 Chevrolet S10 extended cab truck. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 54.
6. About a half mile from Turner's house, Drain Road intersects with Cemetery Road. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 68. Drain Road and Cemetery Road form a "T intersection." Trial Tr. vol. 1 at 43-44. Cemetery Road is a short state road and the traffic laws of South Carolina apply to the intersection of Drain Road and Cemetery Road. Id . 44. There is a stop sign on Cemetery Road at the intersection. Id. at 18; Pl.'s Exs. 28, 35.
7. Going down Cemetery Road is part of Crosby's "line of travel" - an established route that she is required to drive in order to deliver mail. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 51. Crosby would drive down Drain Road, make a left turn on Cemetery Road, go down Cemetery Road and make a U-turn at the cemetery at the very end of Cemetery Road, and turn right onto Drain Road heading in the opposite direction. Id. at 61-63. The cemetery is between an eighth and a quarter of a mile down Cemetery Road. Id. at 108.
8. Prior to the accident, Jenkins was aware of the intersection and knew that there was a stop sign on Cemetery Road where it intersected with Drain Road. Trial Tr. vol 1 at 42, 67. Jenkins had driven on Drain Road a few times before the day of the accident. Id. at 2-3.
9. After picking up Turner, Jenkins got back into her car and headed down Drain Road toward Cemetery Road and Walterboro. Id. at 10-11.
10. When Jenkins came around a curve on Drain Road, Crosby was 700 or 800 feet ahead of her. Id. at 11. Jenkins was driving between 45 and 50 miles per hour. Id. at 55.
11. The parties dispute the position of Crosby's car. Jenkins testified that Crosby's car was half on the road and half off the road. Id. at 20. Jenkins assumed that there was a mailbox where Crosby was pulled over and thought that Crosby was delivering mail. Id. at 11, 20. It is undisputed that there was not a mailbox on Drain Road near the intersection with Cemetery Road on the day of the accident. Id. at 18. Crosby testified that she was not on the side of the road and that she never pulled over to the right side of Drain Road while approaching Cemetery Road. Trial Tr. vol. 2 at 74-78. Because there was no mailbox near the intersection of Drain Road and Cemetery Road, and therefore no reason for Crosby to ...