Plaintiff is injured by a defective pacemaker that had been implanted at defendant’s hospital. The plaintiff’s physician had performed the implantation. The defendant had ordered the pacemaker and delivered it to the surgery room; however, the model and type of pacemaker was specified by the plaintiff’s physician.
Should a hospital be liable for defects in the medical products it furnishes in connection with a patient’s care and treatment?
Plaintiff and her husband were returning to their car which was parked in an unofficial parking lot. The couple were confronted by two two armed gun men, who shot and killed plaintiff’s husband. The National Park Service (NPS) owned the lot in which the incident occurred. The plaintiff sued the NPS for failing to adequately light and police the lot.
The NPS argued that their non-maintenance of the lot was a conscious choice in furtherance of a general aesthetic goal. Should courts treat any coherent, agency objective as a part of policy? Also, should courts mostly defer to an agency’s stated policy goals when assessing the “discretionary activity” exception?
The defendant school district contracted with the defendant transportation company to transport special needs students to and from school. The plaintiff alleged that a bus driver for the transportation company molested her daughter during the rides to and from the school. The evidence showed that the bus driver acted suspiciously during his employment, but no history of abuse. The plaintiff sued the school district for negligently retaining a bus driver who they should have known had a propensity to abuse children.
Should courts regard an employer's retention of a problem-prone employee as sufficiently ‘causing' their employee's intentional tort?
Employees of the defendant accidentally severed an underground gas line while drilling a hole for a utility pole. The plaintiff was one of the repairmen called to repair the gas line. While the plaintiff was working, one of his fellow employees shouted “Fire” because the area was engulfed in smoke. The plaintiff looked up, saw smoke, and ran into a utility pole while trying to escape. In actuality, the smoke was caused by a mosquito fogger that was pumping fog into a nearby manhole.
To what extent should the creators of hazards be liable to responders who are injured while trying to eliminate the hazard? Also, should courts automatically treat intervening causes of the plaintiff’s injury as superseding causes that relieve the defendant of liability?
Defendant arrested the plaintiff’s son for driving under the influence. After transporting the intoxicated individual to the police department and leaving him in a holding cell, the defendant did not check back on him for approximately thirty-seven minutes. When defendant returned to the cell, she discovered that the plaintiff’s son had committed suicide by hanging himself with his belt and socks. Despite a written policy to remove “personal articles” from prisoners, defendant did not remove the decedent’s socks or belt. There was also policy stating that officers who bring in detainees are responsible for checking on the detainee.
Should courts recognize the doctrines of contributory and comparative fault in suicide cases? In deciding this question, should courts factor in custodial relationships between the defendant and the deceased—such as a jailer-detainee relationship?
Plaintiffs are administrators suing on the behalf of two deceased farm workers. The farm workers were natives of Puerto Rico; one could read some English, the other could not read any. The defendant chemical company sold a highly lethal (to human beings) pesticide to the employer of the farm workers. After a full day of dusting, the farm workers died that night due to exposure to the pesticide. Despite evidence showing that the defendant had complied with Department of Agriculture labeling requirements, at trial the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
Should federal laws be allowed to set the standard of care for a negligence action through the NPS doctrine? Remember that negligence claims—like much of tort law—arise from a state’s common law.
The plaintiff was a four-year-old child whose parents were both incarcerated. The plaintiff was put under the care of her grandmother, under the supervision of county workers. County workers failed to perform their mandatory supervisory duties and did not thoroughly investigate several reports on the grandmother's abuse of the plaintiff. The grandmother's abuse peaked in one episode, where she forcefully immersed the plaintiff's legs in scalding hot water for 30 seconds. The plaintiff suffered burn damage from the skin to the bone, nearly fatal infections of the legs, and permanent disfigurement and disability. The jury returned a verdict assigning 1% of the liability for the injuries to plaintiff's grandmother, and 99% of the liability to the county and its employee.
How should courts apportion liability between entities that enable the plaintiff's harm through negligence (in this case, the county) and individuals that intentionally cause the harm (in this case, the grandmother)?
Should defendants be liable for a failure to warn, if the plaintiff's harm was not the type to be warned against? What if the warning would have, nevertheless, diverted the plaintiff away from the harm?
Notes: Defendant owned a pond which was actively used and known as a place of recreation for the local community. Due to the presence of rat urine in the water, swimmers faced a risk of contracting Weils disease. However, the defendant did not post any signs warning the community of this risk. While the plaintiff's husband played “hide-e-boo” with his children, he accidentally slipped underwater due to the depth and drowned. Plaintiff sued the defendant on the theory that the existence of warning signs for Weils disease would have caused the plaintiff's husband to refrain from entering the water; thereby avoiding the fatal accident.
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