Category: State Case Briefs

Coca-cola truck

Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co., 24 Cal. 2d 453 (1944)

FACTS: A bottle of Coca Cola exploded in CJ Ginson’s hand. The explosion not only inflicted a deep five-inch cut on Ginson’s hand, but it also severed the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels of her palm and thumb.

ISSUE: Whether Ginson (Plaintiff) may rely upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to infer Coca Cola (Defendant) is negligent and responsible for the defective bottle when it delivered it to Plaintiff.

RULERes ipsa loquitur applies if a defendant had sole control of the object that caused the injury. Second, the accident would not have occurred but for defendant’s negligence.

ANALYSIS: Carbonated liquid bottles that are properly prepared do not typically explode when carefully handled. Therefore, it can be inferred that the bottle was defective at the time Defendant relinquished control. Because Defendant failed to discover the flaw, it is liable for negligence.

CONCLUSION: Because Plaintiff showed Defendant had sole control over the delivery and inspection of the bottles, Plaintiff has satisfied the requirements under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

CONCURRENCE: (Shenk, J., Curtis, J., Carter, J., and Schauer, J., concurred) A manufacturer incurs liability when it knows the object it places on the market will be used without inspection, and the object proves to be defective and causes injury to a human being. While liability should not extend to injuries that cannot be traced to the product when it reaches the market, a manufacturer’s liability should rests on whether a product is safe during normal and proper use.

Drug overdose

Bias v. Advantage International, Inc. 905 F.2d 1558 (D.C. Cir. 1990)

FACTS: Leonard K. Bias died from a cocaine overdose. James Bias, Personal Representative of Leonard K. Bias’s Estate, alleged that prior to Bias’s death, the Estate instructed Advantage International, Inc. and A. Lee. Fentress to take a one million dollar insurance policy on Bias’s life. However, Fentress did not take out a life insurance policy on Bias before he died. Fentress further claims his parents did not see to purchase insurance coverage on Bias’s life.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Estate (Plaintiff) sued Advantage International, Inc. (Defendant) for breach of contract (failure to obtain insurance policy). The district court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The Estate appealed the decision.

JUDGMENT: Affirmed.

ISSUE: Whether the Defendant sufficiently demonstrated the Plaintiff lacked evidence to establish elements of their case on summary judgment.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: Plaintiff failed raise substantial doubt as to the material facts, therefore, no genuine issue of material fact exists as to the insurability of the Plaintiff.

RATIONALE: To survive summary judgment, the non-moving party must come forward with precise facts that show there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In the Court’s view, Plaintiff did not rely on specific facts; only allegations that did not create a genuine issue for trial.

SYNTHESIS: In Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, SCOTUS stated a moving party must inform the district court of the grounds for its motion. It also said a moving party must identify parts of the record that establishes an absence of genuine issue of material fact. The Court also held a party cannot move for summary judgment with conclusory assertions that a party has no evidence to prove their case. However, in the present case, the appeals court was of the view that the Plaintiff could not show a genuine issue for trial.

Automobile accident

Hawkins v. Masters Farms Inc., WL 21555767 (D. Kan. 2003)

FACTS: On December 8, 2000, Mr. Creal was killed in an automobile accident on Mineral Point Road, just south of Troy, Kansas, when his 1988 Chevrolet van collided with a New Holland tractor driven by Defendant Masters [a citizen of Kansas]. From the time Mr. and Mrs. Creal first met until Mr. Creal’s death in December 2000, Mr. Creal retained certain connections with the State of Missouri.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiffs filed action in federal court alleging the existence of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

JUDGMENT: Defendants’ motion to dismiss granted.

ISSUE: Whether Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas or the State of Missouri at the time of his death.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas at the time of his death.

RATIONALE: At the time of Mr. Creal’s death, he not only established a physical presence in the State of Kansas, but also displayed an intent to remain there, demonstrating no diversity of citizenship. Although Mr. Creal retained some connections with the State of Missouri, the court did not find these connections sufficient to overcome the evidence that his actions from January 2000 until the time of his death demonstrated an intent to remain with his wife in the State of Kansas. Therefore, subject matter jurisdiction could not be established.

COMMENTS: When determining whether diversity jurisdiction exists, a person is a “citizen” of the state in which he or she is “domiciled.” “For adults, domicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with a certain state of mind concerning one’s intent to remain there.” Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989). In this case, the Defendants attacked Plaintiffs’ allegations of diversity subject matter jurisdiction. As the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, the presumption is against federal jurisdiction.

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