XIV.B. Economic Harm | Jonathan Zittrain | December 21, 2012


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XIV.B. Economic Harm

by Jonathan Zittrain Show/Hide
  1. 1 Show/Hide More People Express Airlines, Inc. v. Consolidated Rail Corp.--"The Evacuated Airport"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    Should courts support a negligence cause of action where the injury is purely economic? If so, how far should courts extend the boundaries of the negligent actor's liability?
    The defendants' negligence led to the risk of a tank car exploding. The business operations of plaintiff's airline—which was within a one-mile radius of the tank car—was interrupted due to a forced evacuation by municipal authorities. Ultimately, no explosion resulted and there was no property damage suffered by the plaintiff. However, plaintiff sued the defendants on the theory that their negligence resulted in economic loss due to the disruption of plaintiff's business activities.
  2. 2 Show/Hide More Koch v. Consolidated Edison Co. -- "The New York Blackout Case"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    When a public utility fails to provide its services, should it be liable for possible economic harm flowing from the disruption in service?
    Defendant electric-power company negligently caused a blackout. Plaintiff municipality sued for the increased overtime wages of police, fire, sanitation and hospital personnel as a consequence of the blackout; other plaintiffs sued for lost sales, transfers, transactions, tolls and fares not paid; and lastly, some plaintiffs sued for property damage resulting from looting and vandalism by rioters.
  3. 3 Show/Hide More Strauss v. Belle Realty Co. -- "The Man who Tripped Down the Stairs"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain
    If a plaintiff is harmed by a public utility's breach of contract to a third-party, should the public utility be liable?
    Plaintiff lived in an apartment managed by the defendant realty company. During a blackout caused by the defendant electric-power company, plaintiff was injured while going down stairs located in the apartment's common area. The plaintiff had a contract with the defendant power company for electricity in his apartment unit. However, power to the apartment's common areas was provided under a separate contract between the defendant power company and defendant realty company.

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