Tag: negligence

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.

snowmobile

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.

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.

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.

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.

Abestos on the job site.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986)

FACTS: Myrtle Catrett alleged her husband’s exposure to Celotex Corporation’s asbestos products resulted in his death.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Catrett (Respondent) sued Celotex (Petitioner) for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. The district court granted Petitioner’s summary judgment motion. Respondent appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision of the district court. Petitioner filed certiorari. SCOTUS granted the petition to resolve the conflict.

JUDGMENT: Reversed and remanded.


ISSUE: Whether the Petitioner sufficiently demonstrated the Respondent lacked evidence to establish elements of their case at trial.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: A party cannot move for summary judgment with a conclusory assertion that plaintiffs have no evidence to prove their case.

RATIONALE: The standard for granting summary judgment is similar to the directed verdict standard. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a). In SCOTUS’ view, lower courts must construe Rule 56 with due regard of individual asserting the claims and defenses that will eventually be tried by a jury. The rule must also be construed with due regard for the individual in opposition that those claims and defenses have no factual basis.

CONCURRENCE: (White, J., concurring) A plaintiff does not have to initiate any discovery or reveal their witnesses or evidence unless the court orders or they are required to do so by discovery rules. According to Justice White, it is the defendant who must negate a plaintiff’s basis for the suit.

DISSENT: (Brennan, J.; The Chief Justice; Blackmun, J., dissenting) The Dissenters felt the Court did not explain what the requirement is for the party who claims a non-moving party cannot prove their case, and then moves for summary judgment. Be that it may, the Dissenters felt Celotex failed to both, provide affirmative evidence and attack the Respondent’s evidence. Because Celotex failed to discharge its burden of production under Rule 56, the district court erred when it granted summary judgment.