Several years ago, a Wisconsin bicyclist was traveling on a bicycle only trail. A vehicle was illegally using the bicycle trail and collided with the bicyclist causing a bicycle accident and injury.
The bicyclist and his insurance company, WPS sued the passengers of the vehicle alleging a civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and strict liability.
The court held that mere acquiescene or approval without cooperation or agreement to cooperate is not enough to hold a passenger liable for conspiracy. No duty exists to protect others from hazardous situations.
The court went on to discuss the difference between active and passive negligence in automoblile and bicycle accidents. The court held, Only active negligence constitutes a cause of an accident for which liability may be imposed on a passenger." This limitation is based on the fact that a passenger is not held to the same degree of care with respect to lookout as a driver. Id. at 519-20, 348 N.W.2d at 156. The same principle applies to cases where a passenger is accused of failing to discourage a trip that allegedly creates a foreseeable risk of harm. 2 Liability is limited to active negligence, such as negligent entrustment."
Therefore, the court concluded that the defendant passengers were not responsible for the driver's conduct when he drove his car on the bicycle path. The court granted summary judgment to the passengers of the car meaning the suit against them was dismissed.