Fact pattern help

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TBlaw
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:19 pm

Fact pattern help

Postby TBlaw » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:25 pm

Hello this is my first post but I was wondering if anyone could help me out.
Last edited by TBlaw on Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

random5483
Posts: 684
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:17 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby random5483 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:36 pm

TBlaw wrote:Hello this is my first post but I was wondering if anyone could help me out.
I'm working on a fact pattern indicates that an error on the behalf of a construction worker caused an injury to a passer by standing 100 feet away. However there were some signs posted warning people of danger and to stay 200 feet back.
Also the injured man's wife suffered a heart attack when informed of the news.
Do the signs absolve liability and could the construction company be liable for the wife's death as well?
Thanks for any help
TB


The answer here revolves around duty and breach. To determine if there was a breach we have to figure out what the standard of care was (probably the reasonable construction company standard of care or reasonable person standard of care). Is it reasonable to place signs without any other warning? Were there any cones or anything preventing access to the area? Most likely, the reasonable person standard of care was not met. Therefore, there was likely a breach of the standard of care (I will let you figure out duty/causation/damages).

The wife would be filing for emotional damages. She cannot win emotional damages unless she was within the zone of danger of the injury when her husband was injured (majority position). Further, courts generally do not award emotional damages unless the emotional injury stems from a physical injury; however, the physical injury can be as little as a dust flake hitting you. Nevertheless, unless the wife was within the zone of danger, she will not win an emotional distress claim. But, she might be eligible for emotional damages under minority positions. Also, just as a note, emotional distress was traditionally limited to cases involving mishandled corpses/etc. Now days, emotional damages are awarded in other cases, but usually the zone of danger and physical contact requirements need to be met. The fact pattern does not show either.


Disclaimer: Studied this last semester, so some of the stuff is a little gray.

StyrofoamWar
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:16 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby StyrofoamWar » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:45 pm

TBlaw wrote:Hello this is my first post but I was wondering if anyone could help me out.
I'm working on a fact pattern indicates that an error on the behalf of a construction worker caused an injury to a passer by standing 100 feet away. However there were some signs posted warning people of danger and to stay 200 feet back.
Also the injured man's wife suffered a heart attack when informed of the news.
Do the signs absolve liability and could the construction company be liable for the wife's death as well?
Thanks for any help
TB


Quick run-through of some things you should be looking at:

Potential cause(s) of action for injured man against Construction Company: Negligence (did they have a duty? did they breach by not exercising reasonable care by only posting sign?), strict liability (is this type of building abnormally dangerous?)

Potential cause(s) of action for estate of deceased woman against Construction Company: Negligence again, strict liability again, but there is an issue of causation. While it is clear that the conduct of the construction company caused her death, was it foreseeable/within scope of the risk?

Additionally, does the jdx you are in allow for recovery by persons related to the injured party? Although the heart attack killed her, the error by the construction company did not directly cause this heart attack. Accordingly, does the jdx you are in allow recovery for emotional distress. Different jdxs apply different tests. Some bar recovery, some allow only if you were within the "zone of danger" created by the accident, some allow only if you saw the accident firsthand, and some allow only if you are sufficiently closely related. Would need to address each of these.

Potential defenses of the Construction Company against injured man: Assumption of risk (if they could prove he saw the sign and came into the construction area anyways)

Potential defenses of the construction company against dead wife: Could argue about lack of duty, lack of causation, could try to make an intervening cause argument somehow (probably not successful), could argue about the issues of recovery for emotional distress discussed above.


Hope some of this helps, I'm sure I missed some things but that's hopefully a starting point.


EDIT: Realized I assumed the lady died from the heart attack, which isn't a given. Either way, basically same argument, just less damages if she's still alive (damn)

TBlaw
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:19 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby TBlaw » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:56 pm

Thanks for the help
Last edited by TBlaw on Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

StyrofoamWar
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:16 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby StyrofoamWar » Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:06 am

TBlaw wrote:Thanks for the help. I have a terrible text book only to be accompanied with an equally bad professor.
I forgot to mention the heart attack was fatal, the question was asking if the company was liable. I didn't think the construction company would be. But way to get to that in advance.
Also if I could add a little more to the scenario. The construction company dropped a tube on delivery truck. The truck was carrying explosives that caused the man's injury. The tuck was not supposed to be parked where it was and exploded when hit by the tube. I am pretty sure the delivery company and construction company would be jointly liable. But I am not sure if it’s that simple?
Again thanks for the help it was GREATLY needed


I'd say you're looking at joint tortfeasors for sure, and the issue will just be what the rule in that jdx is with regard to joint and several liability. My guess is you should be good to go to sue either one for the full amount of damages and let them sort it out amongst themselves through contribution. Keep in mind, however, that if the plaintiff is found to have assumed the risk or is somehow contributorily negligent, this may factor into the amount of damages awarded/how much he can recover from each plaintiff, depending on the damages rules of the jdx in quesiton.

You might even have a cause of action against the truck driver who parked the truck in the wrong place (and against his employer through respondeat superior), as well as the crane operator who dropped the tube (and his employer, on the same premise as the truck driver) if he was negligent in doing so or if you can determine strict liability applies to crane operation as it is an abnormally dangerous activity.

When in doubt, sue as many of the bastards as you can.

TBlaw
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:19 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby TBlaw » Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:23 am

Thanks alot.
The fact pattern def. shows negligence on the part of the crane operator who admitedly failed to secure the tube properly and the truck driver who was not supposed to be making deliveries in that area at that time anyway.
I’m pretty sure the P can argue both acted negligently and thus both liable as join liability
Thanks for the life line

TBlaw
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:19 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby TBlaw » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:35 am

Foll
Last edited by TBlaw on Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

StyrofoamWar
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:16 pm

Re: Fact pattern help

Postby StyrofoamWar » Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:00 am

TBlaw wrote:Follow up question....
If one party is strictly liable b.c of abnormally dangerous activity, what is the liability of the second party?


Haven't ever read anything directly about it, but both parties have to be liable of their own accord. Strict liability is just a way to shortcut the duty/breach issue. You would still need to establish an independent cause of action against the second party. There's no bootstrapping strict liability on the part of one party into liability on the part of the second party.




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