To establish a prima facie case for negligence a plaintiff must show my a preponderance of the evidence:
that the defendant had a duty
that the standard of care under that duty was breached
that the defendant’s conduct was the cause-in-fact
that the defendant’s conduct was the proximate cause
that the plaintiff suffered injury
Duty can be described as a policy decision to hold someone liable for an injury. It is determined after the fact according to a standard of care.
NOTE: A broad conception of duty would include a duty of reasonable care even to unforeseeable plaintiffs. If this is the case, then a duty may be owed to anyone injured by the negligent act. (see Andrew, J. dissenting in Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad). If this is the case, then proximate cause becomes the limited factor.
NOTE: A more limited vision of duty would only hold a defendant liable for injuries to foreseeable plaintiffs. (See Cordozo, J. Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad)
The Reasonable Person Standard
The default standard of care for negligence actions is that of a “reasonable person under the circumstances.”
Factors indicating reasonableness:
foreseeable risks of injury
the extent of the risks posed b
h various courses of conduct.
The reasonable person standard is an objective standard. It does not depend on what the defendant believed was reasonable but on how a reasonable person of ordinary prudence would act in the same or similar situation.
The standard is that of a reasonable person under the circumstances. The standard of care can be extrapolated to cover those with similar circumstances (disability, child, etc.).
àEXCEPTIONS: those with mental disabilities are held to standard of person with average intelligence; children engaged in adult activities held to adult standard.
Ø Hammontree v. Jenner
Ø See Brown v. Kendall where Δ allowed to recover even when Πs accident causing behavior was unintentional when the Π failed to exercise “ordinary care.”
Ø Adams v. Bullock, where court held that trolley company could not be held liable for electrocution of 12-year-old boy waving eight foot wire along trolley bridge because the event was not reasonably foreseeable.
Ø United States v. Carroll Towing Co.: duty where B