WedgeCorp manufactures golf clubs. The clubs have rubberized grips that golfers hold onto to swing them. Neil bought his wife a set of clubs for her birthday. Cindy, Neil’s wife, is an avid golfer and uses the clubs frequently at the local golf course. When WedgeCorp manufactured the clubs, they used improperly mixed glue that did not tightly bond the grips to the end of the clubs. Seven months after acquiring the clubs, Cindy went golfing with her friend, Kate. While Cindy was swinging a five iron, the grip came loose and the club sailed through the air, striking Cindy’s golfing partner, Kate, in the forehead.
According to the text; Torts and Personal Injury Law (Okrent, 2009); absolute (strict) liability holds a tortfeasor responsible for his or her behavior regardless of fault. Some people feel that it is unfair to hold a defendant accountable especially if he or she did not behave intentionally. “That is why absolute liability is restricted in certain types of activities, such as abnormally dangerous task and defectively dangerous products, where the risk involved substantially outweighs the benefits” (Okrent, 2009). Product liability is any form of liability arising out of the use of a defective product.
A plaintiff can bring three different causes of actions depending on the facts: strict tort liability, negligence, or breach of warranty. ” Under products liability, the manufacturer or the seller of a product is absolutely liable for a defective product that has caused an injury (Okrent, 2009). Cindy was an avid player and used the clubs frequently at the golf course, but seven months after having the clubs, the grip came loose, the club went flying in the air, hitting Cindy’s friend Kate in the forehead. Cindy was not behaving intentionally when her friend Kate was hit in the forehead, and she used the clubs properly as she always had.
Also it was reasonably foreseeable that she would use the golf clubs, being an avid golfer. Therefore; she is a foreseeable plaintiff. Applying the consumer contemplation test or the dangerous/utility test, Cindy did not expect the grip to come a loose causing injury to Kate. WedgeCorp erroneously used an improperly mixed glue that did not tightly bond the grips to the end of the clubs, which would be a manufacturers defect. The defective golf clubs reached the ultimate user in the same condition as when it left the manufacturer, making WedgeCorp responsible for the condition of the product.
WedgeCorp use of an improperly mixed glue caused Kate’s injuries because the grip came apart from the club hitting her in the forehead. Cindy used the product as it was designed, that is to play golf and was a foreseeable plaintiff, thus making WedgCorp responsible for Kate’s injuries. Peter bought a large screwdriver, made by the Hand Tool Manufacturing Company, from his local hardware store. Unbeknownst to anyone, the screwdriver had a microscopic crack in its shaft. If excessive pressure were exerted on the screwdriver, it would snap. Peter used the screwdriver to pry open sealed crates that he received at work.
One day, while Peter was prying open a crate, the screwdriver broke, severely cutting the tendons in Peter’s left hand. In Peter’s case who is strictly liable for the unreasonably dangerous product? As with Cathy the ultimate user in the first scenario, the product reached Peter the ultimate user in the same condition as it left the retailer. The fault was the assembly of the product. Using the consumer contemplation test would a reasonable person purchase a product with a large crack in the shaft, knowing that it could be dangerous? The product’s dangerous condition rendered it unreasonably dangerous to the ultimate user.
Peter was not aware of the microscopic crack in the shaft of the screwdriver, and using the danger/utility test; the hazards in using the product outweighed the benefits. It was reasonably foreseeable that Peter would use the screwdriver so he is a foreseeable plaintiff. The manufacturer, not the hardware store is responsible for Peter’s injuries because they did not know about the crack in the shaft either. Hand Tool Manufacturing Company was the proximate cause and is absolutely liable for Peter’s injuries under products liable theory.
Kate drives a delivery truck for the Dough Boy, a local bakery. One day, while make a delivery, Kate saw an automobile parked along the side of the street begin to move. There was no one inside the car, and it appeared to have slipped out of gear. The car rolled with increasing speed down a hill toward a crowded sidewalk along which several businesses were having outdoor sales. None of the shoppers, saw the runaway vehicle approaching. Kate rammed her truck into the rear right side of the car, causing it to spin sideways. This stopped it from rolling into the pedestrians.
The auto owner sued Kate for damaging the care and the owner of the Dough Boy also sued Kate for damaging the delivery truck. “Sometimes intentional torts are legally justified; thus, the person engaging in the intentional tort is not liable to the victim. These are collectively called defenses to intentional torts. Defenses are commonly used by the defendant in a civil lawsuit to exonerate the defendant from liability to the plaintiff” (Okrent, 2009). There are several types of legal defenses to intentional tort, these are: * Consent: Defense to all intentional torts. Self-defense: Defense against assault, battery, or false imprisonment. * Defense of persons or property: Defense against assault, battery, or false imprisonment. * Rightful repossession: Defense against trespass to land, trespass to chattel, conversion, assault and battery. * Mistake: Defense to most intentional torts. * Privilege: Board category of defense against all intentional torts. * Necessity: Defense to various intentional torts
* Public officer’s immunity for legal process enforcement, and law enforcement and private citizens’ defense for warrantless arrest. Statutes of limitations: Defense to all intentional torts. * Workers Compensation The tort committed in this scenario is intentional tort, and the defenses used to support the defendant who is Kate against the plaintiffs, Dough Boy Bakery and the owner of the car, would be the privilege defense and necessity defense. “As an intentional torts defense, privilege is a legal justification to engage in otherwise tortious conduct in order to accomplish a compelling social goal. This defense is based upon the right of a person to do what most people are not permitted to do” (Okrent, 2009). Privilege presumes that the intentional tort is legally justified because of the higher purpose to be achieved” (Okrent, 2009).
There are two things to consider when using privilege as a defense: 1) Do the actor’s motives for engaging in an intentional tort outweigh the injury to the victim or to his or her property? In this case Kate’s intentional tort did outweigh the injury to the property of the victims. Her intentions were to save lives and by ramming the delivery truck into the moving vehicle she more than likely prevented the shoppers from getting injured or killed. ) Was the actor justified in committing the intentional tort to accomplish his or her socially desirable purposes, or could a less damaging action have been taken instead? I feel that she was justified in her actions since the shoppers were unaware that the car was moving with no one in it. If she would have just yelled out, there is no guarantee that she would have gotten the attention of the shoppers and many still may have been injured or killed. By hitting that unattended moving vehicle lives were saved (Okrent, 2009).
Another variety of privilege that excuses tortious misconduct is necessity, which in some ways is similar to privilege. Under the necessity defense, the tortfeasor is justified in engaging in an intentional tort to prevent more serious injury from an external force. The four elements involved in the necessity defense are; 1) Committing and intentional tort 2) to avert more serious injury 3) caused by a force other than the tortfeasor 4) and the tortfeasor’s actions were reasonably necessary to avert the greater harm.
In this situation, Kate was faced with choosing between the lesser of two evils. On one hand she had to inflict injury upon the victim’s property to save lives, or she could have done nothing and watch as the unattended vehicle injure or kill innocent people, wreaking even greater havoc. Therefore Kate’s actions were reasonably necessary to prevent the injuries and deaths of innocent people (Okrent, 2009).
Okrent, Kathy J. (2009). Tort and Personal Injury Law. Fourth Edition: Cengage Learning Inc.