If several defendants act negligently and one among them must have caused the harm, but the plaintiff is unable to prove which defendant did so, should courts hold the defendants liable?
Notes: Plaintiff goes out hunting with the two defendants. After plaintiff flushed a quail out of hiding, both defendants shot at the quail, in the plaintiff’s direction, despite being aware of the bird’s proximity to the plaintiff. Plaintiff was struck in the eye and lip with shotgun pellets. At trial, it was not possible to link the wounding pellets to a particular gun.
When the wrongful act must have been committed by one defendant in a group of defendants, but there is no evidence proving that all members of the group acted negligently, should courts refuse to hold the group liable?
Notes: Plaintiff’s eye was injured during a fencing match by a sabre which was defectively manufactured. There was evidence which narrowed the identity of the sabre’s manufacturer to one of the two defendants, but insufficient evidence to link the sabre to a single manufacturer.
If each member of a group of defendants negligently contributes to an indivisible injury, should courts impose liability upon the entire group?
Notes: Plaintiff was severely and permanently retarded due to brain damage suffering at birth. Evidence proved that defendant obstetrician had committed eight separate acts of medical malpractice during the birth, and that the defendant pediatrician had committed three separate acts of medical malpractice after the birth. Expert witnesses maintained that the brain damage could have been caused by either one of the defendants’ negligence, or by the combined negligence of both. However, the experts did not believe that they could accurately tell what “percentage” of the plaintiff’s brain damage was due to obstetrician’s wrongful acts, as opposed to the pediatrician’s.
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