Various Torts Law Briefs IV

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Various Torts Law Briefs IV Powered By Docstoc
					TORTS FOR 10/20/04
NEGRI V. STOP & SHOP, INC., Court of Appeals of NY, 1985 History: Case dismissed Facts: Negri while shopping in Stop & Shop, ell backward and didn’t hit the shelves, but hit her head on the floor where a lot of broken baby food jars were; the baby food was dirty and messy; isle had not been cleaned/inspected for at least 50 minutes prior to accident Issue: Whether there was a prima facie case Holding: Case should not have been dismissed Analysis: Records contains evidence to show that defendant had constructive notice of a dangerous condition which allegedly caused injuries to the plaintiff Circumstantial evidence was enough to permit jury to draw the necessary inference that a slippery condition was created by jars of baby food which had fallen and broken way before the accident occurred CHIARA V. FRY’S FOOD STORES OF AZ, INC., Supreme Ct. of AZ, 1987 History: Trial court granted summary judgment for Fry’s b/c Chiara could not demonstrate Fry’s had notice of the spill Facts: Chiara slipped on some crème rinse in Fry’s Food Store; no one could explain where it came from or how long it had been on the floor; Chiara said mode of operation rule let her prove negligence w/out demonstrating that Fry’s had actual or constructive notice of the spilled crème rinse Issue: Whether Fry’s could reasonably anticipate crème rinse would be spilled on a regular basis Holding: Trial court’s order granting summary judgment for Fry’s is vacated and remanded for new trial Analysis: “Mode of operation”—looks to a business’s usual mode of operation and not the events surrounding the plaintiff’s accident; plaintiff is not required to prove notice if proprietor could reasonably anticipate hazardous conditions would regularly arise A mode of operation only falls under this rule when a business can reasonably anticipate that hazardous conditions would arise Jury should decide if Fry’s reasonably could’ve anticipated the spill If Fry’s exercised reasonable care, it will prevail at trial

PIETRONE V. AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO., Ct. of Appeals of CA, 1987 History: Summary judgment in favor of Pietrone Facts: Pietrone and her husband were on his bike; oncoming car began u-turn; Pietrone went right to avoid; car’s bumper hit Pietrone’s leg, breaking it; leg got caught and she had to have it amputated Issue: Burdens of proof and failing to meet them Holding: Judgment affirmed Analysis: Exposed rotating rear wheel was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury Burden shifted to defense to justify its adoption/utilization of that design Existence of other designs and their effectiveness in preventing this kind of accident is patent

ESCOLA V. COCA-COLA BOTTLING CO., Supreme Court of CA, 1944 History: Judgment upon a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff Facts: Plaintiff injured when coke bottle broke in her hand Issue: Whether doctrine of res ipsa loquitur conditions have been satisfied Holding: Judgment affirmed Analysis: “Res Ipsa loquitur”—in some circumstances, mere fact of an accident’s occurrence raises an inference of negligence so as to establish a prima facie case; does not apply unless (1) def. had exclusive control of thing causing injury and (2) accident is such that it wouldn’t normally occur in the absence of negligence by the def. Bottle must’ve been defective b/c properly prepared bottles don’t just explode

COX V. NORTHWEST AIRLINES, US Court of Appeals, 7 th Circuit (1967) History: Judgment entered for Cox; Northwest appeals Facts: Cox’s husband was traveling on a Northwest plane from McChord Air Force Base, Seattle to Elmendorf, Alaska; flight briefed about whether; requested higher altitude and this was last transmission; debris found next day but no bodies Issue: Holding: Judgment for Cox affirmed and remanded w/direction to modify damages Analysis: No evidence as to cause of crash, so appellant’s evidence of due care is not that important Res ipsa loquitur rule deals only w/permissible inferences from unexplained events

YBARRA V. SPANGARD, Supreme Ct. of CA, 1944 History: Trial court entered judgments of nonsuit to all defendants; Plaintiff appeals Facts: Ybarra consulted Tilley, who diagnose him w/appendicitis; made arrangements for surgery by Spangard owned/operated by Swift; Ybarra went in and after surgery felt a sharp pain in right shoulder which eventually atrophied his right arm and he had to wear a splint w/advice of Spangard Issue: Whether Ybarra’s evidence as unconscious patient presents a proper case for Res ipsa loquitur doctrine Holding: Judgment or nonsuit for all defendants reversed Analysis: Res ipsa loquitur has three conditions: 1) accident must be kind which doesn’t normally occur in absence of someone’s negligent, 2) must be caused by an agency or instrumentality w/in exclusive control of defendant, 3) must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on part of plaintiff Doctrine is most applicable here w/unconscious patient Injury is best identification of instrumentality unconscious patient could make

ANDERSON V. SOMBERG, Supreme Ct. of NJ, 1975 History: Appellate division said at least one of the defendants was liable for plaintiff’s injury b/c no alternative theory of liability was w/in reasonable contemplation Facts: Anderson was undergoing back surgery by Somberg; piece of instrument broke off in Anderson and they couldn’t get it out so terminated the surgery; Issue: Holding: Appellate Division affirmed Analysis: At least one of the defendants was liable for plaintiff’s injury b/c no alternative theory of liability was w/in reasonable contemplation Where an unconscious plaintiff suffers an admitted mishap not reasonably foreseeable and unrelated to the scope of the surgery, those who had custody of the patient, and who owed him a duty of care as to medical treatment, can be called to account for their default Doctrine has been expanded to include where the negligence cause wasn’t the only or most probable theory in the case, but where alternative theories of liability accounted for the only possible causes of injury Burden of proof shifts to defendants

CONNOLLY V. NICOLLET HOTEL, Supreme Court of MN, 1959 History: Jury returned a verdict against Hotel but trial court granted judgment for defendants notwithstanding the verdict Facts: During the National Junior Chamber of Commerce Convention which had its headquarters at the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis; substance falling from above Connolly hit her left eye as she walked on a public sidewalk on Nicollet Ave. adjacent to the hotel Issue: Holding: Reversed Analysis: Hotel owner generally owes a duty to the public to protect it against foreseeable risk of danger and to keep property in such condition that it won’t be of danger to pedestrians using streets adjacent thereto; failure to do so may constitute negligence One who assembles a large group of people for financial gain assumes responsibility for using all reasonable care to protect others from injury from causes reasonably to be anticipated