Bunkfeldt v. Country Mutual Insurance Co

In Bunkfeldt v. Country Mutual Insurance Co., 29 Wis. 2d 179, 138 N.W.2d 271 (1965), a truck driver drove his tractor-trailer into the plaintiff's lane of traffic, causing a collision. The truck driver gave a statement to the police that the truck axle "started to go sideways" and he could not control the vehicle. See id. at 182. Subsequent inspection of the truck revealed that the dual wheels of the tractor had completely separated from the vehicle. See id. The defense argued that this defect represented a nonnegligent cause of the accident. See id. at 183. The jury agreed, but the trial court granted the plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict, which the court had previously taken under advisement. See id. at 181. The supreme court held that the evidence permitted competing reasonable inferences: one supporting the defendant's claim that the mechanical defect caused the accident; the other supporting the plaintiff's claim that the truck driver's negligence caused the accident. See id. at 182.