Action Versus Inaction | Samantha Bates | January 18, 2016

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Action Versus Inaction

Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: Samantha Bates Show/Hide
  1. 1 Show/Hide More Moch Co. v. Rensselaer Water Co.--"The Failure to Supply Water During a Fire"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: Samantha Bates
    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.
  2. 2 Show/Hide More Strauss v. Belle Realty Co.-- "The Man who Tripped Down the Stairs"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: Samantha Bates
    If a plaintiff is harmed by a public utility's breach of contract to a third-party, should the public utility be liable?
    Notes:
    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.
  3. 3 Show/Hide More Union Pacific Railway v. Cappier--"The Railroad that Ran Over a Man and Let Him Bleed to Death"
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: Samantha Bates
    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.
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January 18, 2016

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Samantha Bates

Research Associate

Harvard Law School, Berkman Center

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