Duty to Control Others | Pam Karlan | December 04, 2014


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Duty to Control Others

Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Pam Karlan Show/Hide

At common law, a person does not generally have an affirmative duty to control the conduct of another. An exception to this rule exists when a special relationship between parties is sufficient to establish a duty of care. Such a duty can be symmetrical (husband-wife) or asymmetrical (adult-minor, doctor-patient), and the nature of the relationship determines the nature of the duty owed. The special relationship can be with either the person whose conduct needs to be controlled (where the plaintiff would be an injured party not in a special relationship with the defendant) or a foreseeable victim (and future plaintiff) of that conduct.

“Tarasoff” lays out the doctrine and arguments for and against the rule. “Broadbent” focuses on whether parents have a duty to protect their children from hurting themselves. “Hawkins” shows the bounds of a doctor’s duty to her patient, including the recurring theme of foreseeability of harm to a known plaintiff. “Cuppy” illustrates the special relationship analysis for finding a duty to control. The contrasting approaches in “Charles” and “Kelly” show the majority and minority (New Jersey) rules for social host liability. “Einhorn” discusses the landlord-tenant relationship and the limits of the duty within it. The extent to which the owner-invitee relationship requires protecting invitees from third party criminal acts is explored in “Boyd”.


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    1. 1.1 Show/Hide More Broadbent v. Broadbent--"The Elimination of Parental Immunity Case"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should children be allowed to sue if their parents’ failure to supervise them led to harm?
    2. 1.2 Show/Hide More Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California--"The Psychiatrist's Failure to Warn the Murder Victim"
      Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
      Do therapists have a duty to control their patients? If so, how far does this duty extend, and how may it be discharged?
    3. 1.3 Show/Hide More Hawkins v. Pizarro--"The Failure to Correctly Report Hepatitis C Test Results"
      Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should doctors be liable to a third party if their failure to warn a patient about their disease leads to harm?
    4. 1.4 Show/Hide More Einhorn v. Seeley--"The Locksmith's Failure to Property Install a Lock"
      Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Should third parties employed to complete a service be liable for crimes committed due to their negligence?
    5. 1.5 Show/Hide More Boyd v. Racine Currency Exchange--"The Non-Compliant Bank Teller and the Murdered Hostage"
      Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Does an owner’s duty to prevent harm against invitees require them to comply with criminal threats?
    1. 2.1 Show/Hide More Charles v. Seigfried--"The Majority Rule for Social Host Liability"
      Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      Does the host who serves alcohol have a duty to prevent the intoxicated from driving?
    2. 2.2 Show/Hide More Kelly v. Gwinnell--"The New Jersey (Minority) Rule for Social Host Liability"
      Original Creator: JenniferH Current Version: Jonathan Zittrain
      How does this court interpret the duty of social hosts to prevent the intoxicated from driving?

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December 04, 2014

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Pam Karlan

Professor of Law

Stanford Law School

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