In questions of duty, should courts draw a distinction between inaction that has the consequence of harm, and positive action that creates harm?
Notes: The defendant water company contracts with a city to supply the city with water. While the contract was still in force, a fire broke out and spread to the plaintiff’s warehouse, destroying it and its contents. The plaintiff alleges that the destruction of his warehouse was caused by defendant’s negligence in failing provide an adequate supply of water to combat the fire, despite prompt notification of the fire, the capacity to properly supply the water, and the contractual obligation to supply water in the manner needed.
Does being a social host create additional duties to guests? Should an individual’s superior knowledge of a dangerous condition require him or her to disclose that danger?
Notes: Defendant—an experienced boat owner—invited his friends on a boat outing. Plaintiff was brought along the outing by one of the invited guests. Prior to the outing, plaintiff and defendant did not know each other. The defendant took the group out to a spot where he knew the water was deep enough for swimming but too shallow for diving. After asking if the defendant was going into the water and receiving an affirmative, the plaintiff dove into the water without warning. As a result of the dive, plaintiff struck the bottom of the lake and severed his spinal cord, rendering himself a quadriplegic.
Should non-negligent owners and operators of an instrumentality have a duty to assist individuals who are harmed by the instrumentality?
Notes: Plaintiff’s son was run over by a freight car operated by the defendant, severing an arm and a leg. The collision was held to be the fault of plaintiff’s negligence alone. However, after the impact, the employees manning the car did not stop and attempt to administer any emergency care.
Should we expect partners in a joint activity—in this case, chasing after girls—to have a duty to protect and aid each other? If someone provides aid, should courts impose a duty on the aiding party to provide a certain standard of care for the injured party?
Notes: Plaintiff and the defendant on appeal were friends. Their attempt to approach two girls resulted in six boys chasing the pair back to the parking lot and severely beating the plaintiff. Defendant escaped unharmed, but returned later for his friend. Rather than take the plaintiff to the hospital, defendant applied ice to his head, drove him around for approximately two-hours and eventually left the plaintiff in the driveway of his grandparents’ house. Plaintiff’s grandparents discovered him the next morning and took him to the hospital. The plaintiff died three days later of an epidural hematoma (bleeding inside the skull).
Should courts recognize a broader rule for creating a duty, capable of encompassing wrongful communications?
Notes: Plaintiff was molested by a school administrator. The administrator had a past history of sexual misconduct. This history was known to individuals who had recommended him for the position he occupied when the incident with the plaintiff occurred. However, those individuals did not include this information in their letters. In her lawsuit, the plaintiff sued the recommenders, on the theory that it was negligent for them to withhold information which could foreseeably lead to harm.
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