Law School torts Law Briefs

Document Sample
Law School torts Law Briefs Powered By Docstoc
BRIEFS FOR 09/22/04 DUTY YANIA V. BIGAN, PA Supreme Court (1959) History: Yania’s widow instituted wrongful death and survival actions against Bigan saying Bigan was responsible for Yania’s death; prelim objections filed on behalf of Bigan; lower court sustained prelim objections Facts: Bigan was engaged in a coal-mining operation; Bigan had installed a pump to move water from cuts he made in ground to get to coal Yania, operator of another coal mining operation, and Ross went to talk to Bigan and Bigan asked Yania to help him do the pump; Ross and Bigan stood where pump was located and Yania stood at one of the side walls and jumped into the water and drowned Holding: Fact that Bigan saw Yania in position of peril near water imposed no legal, although a moral, obligation of duty to go to his rescue

FARWELL V. KEATON, Supreme Court of Michigan (1976) History: Lower court found verdict for Plaintiff and awarded damages; Court of Appeals reversed, saying Siegrist had not assumed duty of obtaining aid for Farwell Facts: Siegrist and Farwell hanging out and followed these girls, girls didn’t like them, complained to friends who beat the hell out of Siegrist; Farwell let him fall asleep in car and dropped him off; Siegrist died three days later Holding: Court of Appeals reversed; verdict of jury for Plaintiff reinstated; Siegrist failed to exercise reasonable care after voluntarily coming to the aid of Farwell and his negligence was proximate cause of Farwell’s death; Siegrist knew or should have known of his peril and had an affirmative duty to come to Farwell’s aid If someone takes control of situation to help, he is regarded as entering voluntarily into that responsibility; where performance begins, there is duty of care In a common undertaking as a social venture, one must help other if the one can do so w/out endangering himself; special relationship establishes a legal duty to obtain assistance

SOLDANO V. O’DANIELS, Court of Appeals of CA (1983) Facts: Soldano shot and killed at salon; a patron of place across street came in and said a man had been threated at salon and could someone call police, either the employee or him; employee refused to call or let patron call Issue: Does a business incur liability for wrongful death if it denies use of a phone to a good Samaritan who explains an emergency situation and wants to call the police? Factors in determining whether a duty is owed to 3rd person: foreseeability of harm to plaintiff degree of certainty that plaintiff sustained injury closeness of connection between defendant’s conduct and injury sustained moral blame attached to the defendant’s conduct policy of preventing future harm extent of burden to the defendant consequences to community of imposing a duty to exercise care w/resulting liability for breach - availability, cost, and prevalence of insurance for risk involved Threat meant harm was imminent, especially w/alcohol involved in bar setting; Certainty of decendent’s injury is undisputed; close connection between employee’s conduct, arguably—patron wanted to use phone Analysis: -

PRIVITY: SUITS BY THIRD PARTIES H.R. MOCH CO. V. RENSSELAER WATER CO., Court of Appeals of NY (1928) Facts: Rensselaer provided water for city; fire broke out during this contract and a building caught fire; flames destroyed Moch Co.’s warehouse and its contents; Rensselaer Water was notified and failed to provide water w/adequate quantity and pressure Holding: Not breach of statutory duty; judgment affirmed Analysis: No legal duty rests upon a city to supply its inhabitants w/protection against fire If conduct has gone forward that inaction would commonly result at that place, not negatively in withholding a benefit, but positively or actively in working an injury, there is a relation out of which arises a duty to go forward

STRAUSS V. BELLE REALTY CO., Court of Appeals of NY (1985) Facts: Failure of Con Edison’s power system left most of NYC in darkness; Strauss tried to go downstairs to get water and fell down stairs  Issue: Whether Con Edison owed duty of care to tenant who suffered personal injuries in a common area of apartment building, where his landlord (not him) had contractual relationship w/utility. Holding: In case of blackout of several million residents/visitors, liability is limited by contractual relationship Analysis: Defendant may be held liable for negligence only when it breaches a duty owed to plaintiff

PROFESSIONALS LUCAS V. HAMM, Supreme Court of CA (1961) Facts: Hamm negligently prepared will stuff containing stuff that was invalid by virtue of will against perpetuities Holding: Beneficiaries of a will wrongly drawn by attorney may recover as 3rd party beneficiaries, but attorney is not liable for his mistakes Analysis: Extension of Hamm’s liability to beneficiaries injured by a negligently drawn will does not place an undue burden on profession Lack of privity between plaintiffs and defendants does not prelude plaintiffs from maintaining an action in torts against defendant

DUTY TO CONTROL OTHERS TARASOFF V. THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERISTY OF CALIFORNIA, Supreme Court of CA (1976) Facts: Poddar killed Tarasoff; 2 months earlier, Poddar had confided his intentions to kill Tarasoff to a psychologist at UC Berkeley; police briefly detained Poddar until he seemed reasonable Issues: Whether defendants had duty of reasonable care to inform plaintiff of her peril. Whether Tarasoff’s death proximately resulted from defendants’ negligent failure to warn Tarasoff about danger. Holding: Cause of action can be found for breach of duty to exercise reasonable care to protect Tarasoff Analysis: Depart from fundamental principle and consider other factors—foreseeability of harm, degree of certainty that plaintiff suffered injury; closeness of connection between defendant’s conduct and injury suffered; moral blame attached to defendant’s conduct; policy of preventing future harm, extent of burden to defendant and consequences to community of imposing duty of care w/resulting liability for breach, and availability, cost and prevalence of insurance for the risk involved Special relationship between defendant therapists and Poddar may support affirmative duties for the benefit of 3rd persons; CA usually says defendant must have special relationship w/victim and to person whose conduct created danger, duty should not be constricted to those situations Once therapist determines patient poses a serious danger to others, he bears duty to exercise reasonable care to protect future victim

VINCE V. WILSON, Supreme Court of VT (1989) Facts: Vince was seriously injured in car accident and brought action against Wilson, who provided funding for grandnephew, driver of car, to buy the car; also added salesman, Gardner, and place, Ace, where car was bought; verdict against Wilson; questions to jury about Gardner and Ace Issue: Negligent entrustment Analysis: Negligent entrustment theory requires a showing that the entrustor knew or should have known some reason why entrusting the item to another was foolish or negligent