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Torts
University of Denver School of Law
Best, Arthur

 
       Torts
       Arthur Best
       FA2015
        
      1      Negligence: The Duty of Reasonable Care
               I     Introduction
                    A     Unintentional Harms
             II     The “Reasonable Person” Standard
                    A     Defining and Justifying the “Reasonable Person” Standard of Care
                                    Vaughn v. Menlove
Man builds hayrick, burns neighbor’s cottages
                                           Introduces the  “Reasonable Person” Standard (RPP)
                                                  The standard of care applied should be “the caution that an ordinary, prudent person would take”
                                                  You will have reasonably prudent neighbors or the cash equivalent
                                    Parrot v. Wells, Fargo & Co. (The Nitro-Glycerine Case)
We somehow know man used a mallet to open a box of nitro, everything explodes
                                           Expands definition of RPP to add “under similar circumstances”
                    B     Reasonable Conduct as a Balancing of Costs and Benefits
                                    McCarty v. Pheasant Run, Inc.
Lady doesn’t know there’s a glass door in her hotel room, gets attacked
                                           Introduces the  Hand Formula
When some says you should have provided a different or greater burden of prevention
                                                  negligent If burden of prevention (B) is less than (B < PL cost benefit analysis             III     The Range of Application of the Reasonable Person Standard                     A     Especially Dangerous Instrumentalities                                     Stewart v. Motts Guy helps other guy fix a car, engine explodes                                            Emphasizes that standard of care is always reasonable person, but attendant circumstances matter and will raise the standard of what is reasonable                     B     Emergencies                                     Myhaver v. Knutson Woman pulls out into oncoming traffic, ∆ hits someone else                                            Introduced the  “Sudden Emergency” Instruction it’s never wrong to not give the “Sudden Emergency” Instruction                                                   Should only be given when:                                               (1)      Party seeking SE instruction had not been negligent prior to emergency                                               (2)      Emergency had come about suddenly and without warning                                               (3)      Reaction to emergency was spontaneous without time for reflection                                                   Arguments against                                                          the sudden emergency is only one factor in considering the reasonable person in the same circumstances, and giving it biases the jury to give more weight to it                     C     An Actor’s Knowledge and Skill                                     Cervelli v. Graves Professional truck drives swerves and hits someone                                            A person’s knowledge and skill (above and beyond RPP) are part of the attendant circumstances, and should be considered by the jury                     D     Youth: Special Treatment for Minors                                     Robinson v. Lindsay 13 yr old rides a snowmobile                                            Introduces the  Child Standard of Care                                                   Conduct is held to the reasonable child of the same age, intelligence, and experience                                                   Should only be used when:                                                          (1)  We want to encourage the activity                                                          (2)  The harms are small                                                          (3)  Easy for judge to know when to apply it                                                          (4)  Easy for jury to know how to apply it                                                          (5)  Easy to spot potential injurer                                                   Exceptions to the child standard of care                                                          When activity is inherently dangerous                                                                 inherent danger not determined by how well child performs activity                                                          When the active is adults only                                                   We want kids to be kids                                     Peterson v. Taylor 7 yr old explodes cans of gasoline                                            Emphasizes that it is the jury who decides what a reasonable child would do - an expert can’t be brought in to decide that threshold for the jury                                     Statutes Parents are not obligated to pay for harms their children might cause unless required by statute                                            Liability of Parent or Guardian for

       Establishes Recklessness as an intentional or unreasonable disregard of a risk that presents a high degree of probability that substantial harm will result to another
Often used when negligence is barred by statute
                                           Proving recklessness
                                                  (1)  Knew of risk or knew facts that made risk obvious
                                                  (2)  Big harm is a highly probable consequence of ignoring or failing to reasonably recognize risk
      2      Proving Breach
In order to prove negligence, the Π must convince jury that ∆ breached a duty
               I     Introduction
                    A     Procedural effect of methods of proof:
                                    (1)  Requiring a finding of negligence regardless of contradictory evidence
                                    (2)  Requiring a finding of negligence unless ∆ offers contradictory evidence
                                    (3)  No mandatory effect of trial – simply evidence of negligence
             II     Violation of a Statute
                    A     Violation of a Statute
                                    Martin v. Herzog
Car hits buggy with no statutorily required lights
                                           Introduces negligence per se
                                                  when an unexcused violation of a statute is negligence in itself
                                                         the reasonable person standard is supplanted by the legislative standard
                                                         still must prove causation
                                                  Must show that statute was put in place to protect
                                                         (1)  against the same type of harm that occurred
                                                         (2)  the same class of person that was harmed
                                                                (3) LESS COMMON – statute was intended to regulate members of ∆s class