Quianna Canada

Bathroom Fixtures

Rowland v. Christian Student Case Brief

Rowland v. Christian, 70 Cal. Rptr. 97, 69 Cal. 2d 108, 443 P. 2d 561 (1968)

FACTS: Christian invited Rowland into her apartment. While using Christian’s bathroom, Rowland’s tendons and nerves on his right hand were severed. He went to the hospital and incurred medical expenses.

ISSUE: Whether Rowland (Plaintiff) can sue Christian (Defendant) for damages for her failure to warn him of the dangerous bathroom fixtures.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Furthermore, every person is responsible…for an injury induced to another by their lack of ordinary care…in the management of their property…unless a person has brough an injury upon themself.

ANALYSIS: The Court found Defendant was aware of the conditions in her bathroom. Defendant knew those conditions were unsafe, and were liable to cause harm to others who come in contact with it. Defendant also knew if a person did come in contact with it, they would likely be injured. Given these points, the Court concluded the Defendant failed to warn Plaintiff of its conditions. The Court based its finding on Section 1714 of the Civil Code, which states, “every person is responsible…for an injury induced to another by their lack of ordinary care…in the management of their property…unless persons brings an injury upon themselves.”

CONCLUSION: Because the Defendant foresaw the harms of allowing individuals into her bathroom, and failed to warn Plaintiff that the conditions in the bathroom was unsafe, the Defendant is liable for damages. Reversed.

Crime scene blood

Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51 (2011)

FACTS: The prosecution charged John Thompson with murder and the case proceeded to trial. A jury convicted Thompson, to which he spent 18 years in prison and 14 on death row. Before execution, Thompson’s investigator discovered the prosecution failed to disclose evidence that should have been turned over to the defense under Brady. The reviewing court determined that the evidence was exculpatory, and both of Thompson’s convictions were vacated.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Thompson (Respondent) sued D.A. Harry Connick (Petitioner), for damages under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The jury found in Respondent’s favor. The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court affirmed the jury’s decision. Petitioner filed certiorari with SCOTUS.

JUDGMENT: Reversed.

ISSUE: Whether a D.A.’s office may be held liable under § 1983 for deliberate indifference and failure to train based on a single Brady violation.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: The case did not fall within the narrow range of “single- incident” liability hypothesized in Canton as a possible exception to the pattern of violations necessary to prove deliberate indifference in § 1983 actions alleging failure to train.

RATIONALE: SCOTUS said in its review that deliberate indifference’ is a stringent standard of fault that requires proof that a municipal actor disregarded a known or obvious consequence of his action. SCOTUS understood that Louisiana courts overturned four of Petitioner’s convictions because of Brady violations. However, SCOTUS found those incidents dissimilar to the violation in the present case. Thus, they could not have put Petitioner on notice that specific training was necessary to avoid a constitutional violation. SCOTUS also found failure to train prosecutors in their Brady obligations does not fall within the narrow range of Canton’s hypothesized single- incident liability. In its opinion, § 1983 does not provide plaintiffs or courts carte blanche to micromanage local governments. In all, a mere showing that additional training would have been helpful in making difficult decisions does not establish municipal liability.

SEPARATE OPINION: (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, & Kagan, dissenting). While the majority held the D.A. office could not be held liable in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for marginal Brady violations, the dissenters found the long-concealed prosecutorial transgressions in the case were neither isolated nor atypical. It further found the misperception and disregard of Brady’s disclosure requirements in Orleans Parish constituted deliberately indifferent conduct for which the D.A. office bears responsibility under § 1983. According to the dissenters, abundant evidence supported the jury’s finding that additional Brady training was obviously necessary to ensure that Brady violations would not occur. For instance, Petitioner misunderstood Brady. Other leaders were similarly uninformed about Brady and had not received training. Lastly, the office shirked its responsibility to keep prosecutors abreast of relevant legal developments concerning Brady requirements. All these factors point to the conclusion that prosecutors took Brady for granted, as to which undermined the integrity of Thompson’s trials.

SYNTHESIS: In Brady v. Maryland, SCOTUS reasoned that society wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials are fair. Although it held due process requires the prosecution to turn over evidence favorable to the accused and material to his guilt or punishment, the present Court felt the lack of Brady training cannot support an inference of deliberate indifference to support a § 1983 claim. If so, any person could point to something the city ‘could have done’ to prevent the unfortunate incident, and bring a § 1983 claim.

Disabled woman

Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976)

FACTS: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare reviewed George Eldridge’s medical reports and information. Afterwards, it informed Eldridge by letter that his disability benefits had been terminated.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Eldridge (Respondent) sued the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (Petitioner), and challenged the constitutional validity of the administrative procedures that assesses whether there exists a continuing disability. The District Court found the administrative procedures breached Respondent’s right to procedural due process. Therefore, it issued an injunction. The Court of Appeals relied on the District Court’s opinion and affirmed.

JUDGMENT: Reversed.

ISSUE: Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires the recipient be afforded an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing prior to the termination of Social Security disability benefit payments.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: The administrative procedures fully comport with due process in the present case. Thus, an evidentiary hearing is not required prior to the termination of disability benefits.

RATIONALE: While the lower courts found due process requires an evidentiary hearing prior to termination, SCOTUS disagreed because of the private and governmental interests at stake. In its view, due process is not a technical conception with a fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances. SCOTUS also reasoned that due process requires (1) the private interest that will be affected by the official action, (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value of additional or substitute procedural safeguards, (3), the Government’s interest, the function involved, and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.

SCOTUS did agree with the lower courts that procedures needed to be tailored to “the capacities and circumstances of those who are to be heard,” and that recipients of benefits must be given a meaningful opportunity to present their case, as in Goldberg v. Kelly. However, in the present case, SCOTUS recognized that the local SSA office offered the Respondent assistance in the completion of his questionnaire. The Respondent was also given an opportunity to submit additional evidence or arguments, which enabled him to challenge the accuracy of information in his file and the agency’s tentative conclusions. Based on these facts, SCOTUS reasoned the potential value of an evidentiary hearing or oral presentation before the decision-maker was inconsequential.

DISSENT: (Brennan, J., Marshall, J.) The Justices in the dissent agreed with the lower courts that Eldridge must be afforded with an evidentiary hearing of the type required for welfare beneficiaries under Title IV of the Social Security Act prior to termination of benefits. However, the dissidents felt SCOTUS did not need to consider whether a recipient suffers only a limited deprivation that stem from a discontinuance of disability benefits. It also felt the argument raised in regard to a worker who could still seek other forms of public assistance, but has been placed in the untenable position of having been denied disability benefits, was irrelevant for SCOTUS to consider. In all, the dissidents believed the legislative determination to provide disability benefits, without any prerequisite determination of need by the recipient, presumed the need at issue.

SYNTHESIS: Eldridge relied exclusively upon Goldberg v. Kelly, which established a right to an “evidentiary hearing” prior to termination of welfare benefits. SCOTUS then went back to its past decisions and found it spoke sparingly about the requisite procedures. In Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp., it was silent. In Fuentes v. Shevin, SCOTUS said a determination needed to be more than an ex parte proceeding before a court clerk. Although SCOTUS held in Bell v. Burson, that due process required only a pre-revocation hearing, it reasoned that it “need not take the form of a full adjudication of the question of liability.”

In the examination of these cases, SCOTUS pointed out that a recipient’s sole interest is the uninterrupted receipt of benefits pending final administrative decision on their claim. In the event a recipient’s benefits are terminated, and they prevail on their claim, retroactive relief is provided to them. Given this fact, SCOTUS found the Respondent’s potential injury was similar in nature to Goldberg, and Sniadach, but that an evidentiary hearing was not required prior to the termination of disability benefits.

Gas stove

Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67 (1972)

FACTS: Margarita Fuentes purchased a gas stove and stereophonic phonograph from the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Although Firestone retained title to the merchandise, Mrs. Fuentes was entitled to possession contingent she did not default on her installment payments. Firestone claimed Mrs. Fuentes had defaulted on her payment and instituted an action in a small-claims court for repossession of the property. After Mrs. Fuentes received a summons, Firestone obtained a writ of replevin, which ordered a sheriff to seize the property at once.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Mrs. Fuentes (Plaintiff) sued Firestone (Defendant) in a federal district court, and challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s prejudgment replevin procedures under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief against continued enforcement of the procedural provisions of the state statutes that authorize prejudgment replevin.

JUDGMENT: Vacated and remanded.

ISSUE: Whether Florida and Pennsylvania’s statutory procedures violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee that no State shall deprive any person of property without due process of law.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: The Florida and Pennsylvania prejudgment replevin provisions deprives Plaintiffs’ of property without due process of law, and deny the right to a prior opportunity to be heard before property are taken from their possessor.

RATIONALE: The Court relied on Goldberg v. Kelly’s rationale, in that, an opportunity for a hearing must be provided before the deprivation at issue takes effect. The Court further said procedural due process means ‘[p]arties whose rights are to be affected are entitled to be heard. In order that they may enjoy that right, they must first be notified.’ Moreover, the right to notice and be heard ‘must be granted at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.’

The Court was also in full agreement that only ‘extraordinary situations’ can justify the postponement of notice and opportunity to be heard. For example, an important governmental or general public interest, a special need for prompt action, or necessary circumstances where a government official initiates the seizure.

SYNTHESIS: The District Courts relied on Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp and Goldberg v. Kelly to reject the appellants’ constitutional claims. It reasoned that the property defendants seized from the plaintiffs were not absolute necessities of life. Therefore, plaintiffs did not enjoy a right to be heard. However, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Bell v. Burson, a driver’s license suspension case, that an important interest entitles one to a fair hearing before a deprivation occurs, and the protection of procedural due process of law.

The U.S. Supreme Court then looked to the Florida and Pennsylvania statutes, and found, both statutes gave no opportunity for a prior hearing and no prior notice to the plaintiffs. In Florida, a person will be given a hearing after the owner seizes the property. However, in Pennsylvania, the law does not require a hearing on the merits, as it relates to possession of the replevied property. The holding from Bell is similar to Fuentes’ case because a temporary, nonfinal deprivation of property, as with the driver’s license suspension in Bell, is nonetheless a ‘deprivation’ in the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment. Indeed, GoldbergSniadach, nor Bell held the most basic due process requirements is limited to the protection of only a few types of property interests.


Robinson v. Lindsay, 92 Wn.2d 410 , 598 P.2d 392 (1979)

FACTS: Billy Anderson, 13 years-old, was the driver of a snowmobile. Anderson’s negligence resulted in Kelly Robinson losing the use of her thumb. Robinson’s parents sued Anderson for the injury.

ISSUE: Whether a minor who operates a powerful motorized vehicle can be held to an adult standard of care.

RULE: When motor vehicles are operated to the hazard of the public, a minimum degree of care and competence is required.

ANALYSIS: Courts have used a special standard of care to determine a minor’s negligence in an incident. In the present case, the Court determined that Petitioner’s negligent action should not be decided under a flexible standard of care. Minors have normally been held to a standard of care that is expected from minors their age. However, the Court reasoned when minors engage in dangerous activities, such as the operation of powerful vehicles, competence and adult care is required. Therefore, minors should be held to an adult standard of care.

CONCLUSION: Petitioner operated the snowmobile. Thus, he should be held to an adult standard of care. Affirmed. New trial granted.


Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 284 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (1928)

FACTS: A man carried a package that contained fireworks onto a train. When he dropped the package, it fell onto the rails. The fireworks inside the package exploded. As a result of the explosion, the Plaintiff was injured.

ISSUE: Whether Plaintiff can recover damages from the Defendant for negligence as a result of the explosion.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability, the defendant is only liable for harm which he reasonably foresaw.

ANALYSIS: In the Court’s evaluation of the case, the Plaintiff cannot bring an action for negligence unless she can show the invasion of a legally protected interest. In other words, a violation of a right. Here, the Court felt the Plaintiff failed to show how the explosion was wrong to herself, in violation of her own right. The Court further said, if the Plaintiff fails to bring a tort for the court to redress, it cannot consider damages.

CONCLUSION: I disagree with the Court, in that, Plaintiff failed to show the Defendant was the cause of the explosion that led to her injuries, and that she cannot recover damages.

DISSENT: (Andrew, J., dissenting) I agree with Justice Andrew, in that, Defendant’s wrongful act made them liable for its proximate results. See In re PolemisIn his view, when a plaintiff’s injuries result from defendant’s unlawful act, the defendant is liable for the consequences. Justice Andrew further said that the unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable does not matter.

Oil spillage

Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd v. Morts Dock & Engineering Company Ltd.

(The Wagon Mound, No. 1) [1961] UKPC 1

FACTS: Petitioner’s oil travelled into the ocean. The spillage of oil then travelled to Respondents boat. Although it congealed, the Respondents’ work came into contact with the oil. As consequence, their boat caught on fire.

ISSUE: Whether a reasonable person would find Petitioner negligent and responsible for the damages caused by the spillage to which resulted in a fire.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the reasonable foreseeability doctrine, a defendant is only liable for injuries which are reasonably foreseeable.

ANALYSIS: The Court analyzed the holding in In re Polemis, which asserts a defendant is responsible for the injury whether reasonably foreseeable or not. In the present case, the Court found that an actor cannot be held liable for negligence for injuries which are not direct. Reasonable foreseeability cannot be rejected because Petitioner is judged by what a reasonable person ought to foresee. Indeed, this corresponds with the direct consequence test.

CONCLUSION: Although the fire was a proximate cause of Petitioner’s oil spillage, the Respondent cannot recover because the accident was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court overturned the holding in Polemis based on this rationale.

Moving walkway

Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 166 N.E. 173 (1929)

FACTS: Murphy stepped onto a moving walkway at Steeplechase Amusement Park, felt a sudden jerk, and was thrown to the floor.

ISSUE: Whether Murphy (Plaintiff) can recover damages from Steeplechase Amusement Co. (Defendant) for his injuries.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability, the defendant is only liable for harm which he reasonably foresaw.

ANALYSIS: The Court applied the legal maxim, volenti non fit injuria. The Plaintiff took part in an activity at Defendant’s Park. Plaintiff knew dangers could arise while participating in the activity. Therefore, the Plaintiff foresaw the harms that resulted from his participation.

CONCLUSION: Because the Plaintiff foresaw the harms that resulted from his participation in the activity, he cannot recover damages from Defendant for his injuries

Red Buick

MacPherson v. Buick Motor Company, 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050 (1916)

FACTS: MacPherson bought a Buick from a car dealership. While MacPherson was in the Buick it collapsed. MacPherson was injured. The wheel and spokes on the Buick also crumbled into pieces.

ISSUE: Whether Buick Motor Company (Defendant) owed a duty of care to customers.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the reasonable foreseeability doctrine, a defendant is only liable for injuries which are reasonably foreseeable.

ANALYSIS: First, Defendants made a defective automobile. The defective automobile was dangerous. The defective automobile’s dangerous nature also placed Plaintiff’s life in peril. Second, Defendants sold the automobile to the purchaser without testing it first. When Defendants did so, Defendants knew it would be used by other persons. It also knew there was a reasonable likelihood of danger to the persons who used it. From this, it can be said that the defectiveness of the automobile foreshadowed Plaintiff’s consequences. Given these points, Defendants breached its duty to make its automobiles with care.

CONCLUSION: It is clear that a reasonable person would have foreseen and prevent the dangers caused by the defective automobile. As a result, the Defendants are liable for Plaintiff’s injuries.

No Smoking sign

Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc., 634 N.E.2d 697 (1994) 

FACTS: WLW Bill Cunningham invited antismoking advocate, Ahron Leichtman (Plaintiff), on its radio show to discuss the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. Plaintiff claims that Furman (Defendant), a talk-show host, repeatedly blew cigar smoke in his face. He further claims Defendant intended to humiliate him and, cause him distress and discomfort.

ISSUE: Whether the intentional act of blowing tobacco smoke in a person’s face is battery.

RULE: Pursuant to Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts (1965), a person commits battery if they intend to make contact with another person in an offensive or harmful manner. The result of the offensive or harmful contact can be either direct or indirect.

ANALYSIS: On Plaintiff’s battery claim, the Court espoused the Supreme Court’s rule that any contact that offends an individual’s sense of dignity is an offensive contact. Because Defendant deliberately blew smoke in Leichtman’s face, the Court did not address the “substantial certainty” point of intent. In all, the Court decided defendants were not entitled to judgment under Civ. R. 12(B)(6).

CONCLUSION: When Defendant blew cigar smoke, with the intention that it would make contact with Plaintiff’s face, he committed a battery. Reversed and remanded on the battery claim.