ProofOfCausation_Gentry_v_DouglasHerefordRanchIn

Document Sample
ProofOfCausation_Gentry_v_DouglasHerefordRanchIn Powered By Docstoc
					695ca41f-aeb3-459a-ad9f-a0c3d0cbe3e9.doc

page 255

Gentry v. Douglas Hereford Ranch Inc., Supreme Court of Montana, 1998 Were the D’s negligent as a matter of law? Issue

Did the district court err in cocluding that as a matter of law that the ranch company (D) was not negligent?

Reasoning
P failed to prove cause in fact.

Rule
P must produce evidence

Facts
As Bacon was approaching a wooden deck, he stumbled and fell causing his rifle to discharge. The bullet hit P’s wife in the head. The accident occurred on a ranch that was partly leased to a cattle co.

Gentry produced no substantial evidence that any condition of the property owned by the ranch co and leased by the cattle co. caused Bacon to stumble and fall before his gun discharged and killed P’s wife. Cause in fact can not be proven.

from which it can reasonably be inferred that negligent conduct on the part of D was the proximate cause of the injury

A suspicion on what caused an accident is not sufficient to defeat a summary judgment.

P testified numerous times that he didn’t remember how he fell; it could’ve been that he was just clumsy or just missed the step. He had also previously stumbled on the step due to his cumsiness. (Bacon testified that he didn’t think that the step was level)

Held Procedure P argues D argues

Affirmed. P brought a wrongful death suit for the death of his wife against: the shooter Bacon, the ranch (owned by the grandmother), and the cattle company that leased part of the ranch. Summary judgment in favor of D. The ranch and the cattle failed to properly maintain the stairs in a reasonably safe condition. The bottom stair was cluttered and full of debris which contributed to Bacon’s fall. – the step was not level. P failed to attribute his fall to the conditions on the stairs.

695ca41f-aeb3-459a-ad9f-a0c3d0cbe3e9.doc

page 255

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff personal representative appealed from a summary judgment entered by the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, in and for the County of Wibaux (Montana), which found in favor of defendants, a ranch and a cattle company, in the personal representative's action for damages for the decedent's injuries and alleged wrongful death. OVERVIEW: The decedent was shot when a person carrying a rifle stumbled and accidentally pulled the trigger. The accident occurred on property that was owned by the ranch and leased to the cattle company. The personal representative filed suit against the ranch, the cattle company, and the shooter, who subsequently filed bankruptcy. The personal representative alleged that the ranch and the cattle company negligently failed to properly maintain the property and that they were vicariously liable for the shooter's negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior. On appeal, the court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of the ranch and the cattle company. The personal representative offered no substantial evidence that any condition on the property caused the shooter to stumble and fall. Therefore, the issue of causation was subject to speculation. The personal representative also failed to establish that the shooter was an employee of the ranch or the cattle company. Moreover, it was undisputed that the shooter was not acting on behalf of the ranch or the cattle company at the time of the shooting. Therefore, the ranch and the cattle company were not vicariously liable. OUTCOME: The court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the trial court in favor of the ranch and the cattle company. A negligence action requires proof of four elements: (1) existence of a duty; (2) breach of the duty; (3) causation; and (4) damages. If the plaintiff fails to offer proof of one of these elements, the action in negligence fails and summary judgment in favor of the defendant is proper. The causation element requires proof of both cause in fact and proximate cause. A party's conduct is a cause-in-fact of an event if the event would not have occurred but for that conduct; conversely, the defendant's conduct is not a cause of the event, if the event would have occurred without it. In those cases where an independent intervening act is alleged, proximate cause and the attendant notion of foreseeability is still an issue. Therefore, in such cases, proof of causation requires proof of cause in fact and proof of proximate cause. In an action for negligence, a plaintiff must produce evidence from which it can be reasonably inferred that negligent conduct on the part of the defendant or its agents was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags: Torts, Case, briefs
Stats:
views:124
posted:5/16/2009
language:English
pages:2