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Chapter Seven: Strict Liability A' Doctrinal Development: Rylands v' Fletcher

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Title: Chapter Seven: Strict Liability A' Doctrinal Development: Rylands v' Fletcher


1
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development Rylands v. Fletcher

Subject to negligence-based liability
only Collision cases Falling hay bales Boiler
explosion
Subject to strict liability leaking
reservoir fumes from alkali works leaking
privies escaping cattle blasting owners of wild
animals
2
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development
The problem Plaintiff farms organically.
Defendant, who owns the neighboring farm, does
not. When Defendants crops become infested by a
beetle, he hires Crop Duster to spray a
pesticide. Residue of the pesticide turns up on
Plaintiffs vegetables, which he then cannot sell
as organic. Because produce contracts are
entered before the crops are grown, Plaintiff
cannot find a market for his vegetables and is
forced to sell them at a loss.
3
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development
Restatement Second of Torts, 519 General
Principle (1) One who carries on an
abnormally dangerous activity is subject to
liability for harm to the person, land or
chattels of another resulting from the activity,
although he has exercised the utmost care to
prevent the harm. (2) This strict liability
is limited to the kind of harm, the possibility
of which makes the activity abnormally dangerous.

4
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development
Restatement Second of Torts, 520 In
determining whether an activity is abnormally
dangerous, the following factors are to be
considered a) existence of a high degree of
risk b) likelihood of great harm c) inability to
eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable
care d) not a matter of common usage e)
inappropriateness of activity to place carried
on f) extent to which activitys value to the
community is outweighed by its dangerous
attributes.
5
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development
The questions 1) What does it mean to say
someone is strictly liable? How does it differ
from fault based liability? 2) How do you
decide, doctrinally, that strict liability will
be imposed? What activities are subject to
strict liability? 3) Why, as a matter of policy,
are we imposing strict liability on some
activities and not others?
6
Chapter Seven Strict Liability A. Doctrinal
Development Sullivan v. Dunham
524A Plaintiff's Abnormally Sensitive Activity
There is no strict liability for harm
caused by an abnormally dangerous activity if the
harm would not have resulted but for the
abnormally sensitive character of the plaintiff's
activity. Comment a. Since the basis for the
strict liability for abnormally dangerous
activities is the unusual risk inflicted upon
those in the vicinity, it is limited to such
harm as may reasonably be expected to result from
such an activity, or from its miscarriage, to
normal conditions around it and the normal
activities of others.

7
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co. if the nature of
a thing is such that it is reasonably certain to
place life and limb in peril when negligently
made, it is a thing of danger. . . . If to the
element of danger, there is added knowledge that
the thing will be used by persons other than the
purchaser, and used without new tests, then
irrespective of contract, the manufacturer of
this thing of danger is under a dut yto make it
carefully.
8
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
  • MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co.
  • Applied to our problem, what are the issues
  • Is the danger not merely possible, but probable?
  • Would there be a duty on the wheel manufacturer,
    as opposed to Ford?
  • What is the factual basis of the plaintiffs
    claim?
  • Could you show that a reasonable inspection would
    have revealed the defect?
  • Could you show an alternative design?

9
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
  • What is the factual basis of the plaintiffs
    claim?
  • Would res ipsa loquitur apply?
  • Were the tires mismanufactured?
  • If the tires were defective, could you show that
    a reasonable inspection would have revealed the
    defect?
  • Would a reasonable manufacturing process have
    avoided the defects?
  • What is the role of Fords ability to inspect or
    test?
  • What is the relevance of the arguable misuse of
    the product by consumers?
  • What is the relevance of arguments that the
    design of the vehicles contributed to the harm?

10
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
  • Was the design of the tires responsible for the
    harm?
  • Were there reasonable alternative designs?

11
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
Escola v. Coca Cola What are Justice Traynors
arguments for applying strict product liability
to manufacturers?
12
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
Greenman v. Yuba Power Products (note 5,
p.551) a manufacturer is strictly liable in tort
when an article he places on the market, knowing
that it is to be used without inspection for
defects, proves to have a defect that causes
injury to a human being. liability of course
should be defined in terms of the safety of the
product in normal and proper use (Escola, p.
550) and should not extend to injuries that
cannot be traced to the product (ditto)
13
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
Vandermark retailers are strictly liable on the
same terms as manufacturers. Elmore strict
liability extends to bystanders.
14
Ch. 8 Liability for Defective Products A.
Introduction
Vandermark retailers are strictly liable on the
same terms as manufacturers. Elmore strict
liability extends to bystanders.
15
Assignments
Tuesday, Nov. 19 540-556 Weds., Nov.
20 556-572 Thurs., Nov. 21 572-592 Fri., Nov
22 592-605
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