Tag: duty of care

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.

Fireworks

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.

Benzine drums

In re Polemis, 3 K.B. 560 (1921)

FACTS: The stevedores created a make-shift platform to facilitate the transfer of benzine drums. When the stevedores hoisted the sling that contained the benzine, the benzine struck the wooden platform. The fall of the benzine onto the platform caused an explosion. As a result of the fire, the ship was destroyed.

ISSUE: Whether a reasonable person would find defendant negligent and responsible for the damages caused by 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. Res 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: In its evaluation of the case, the Court found that the falling platform caused the explosion. The Court also agreed with the Arbitrators, who found the defendants had control over the benzine. The explosion, in the Court’s view, would not have occurred but for the benzine falling onto the platform. While defendants alleged they were unable to foresee the explosion, they are still liable for damages because the explosion was a proximate cause of the falling platform.

CONCLUSION: Because the explosion was a proximate cause of the falling platform that defendants had control over, the plaintiff can recover. Indeed, the Court dismissed the appeal.