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BLS 7 - Williams v Cingular Wireless Cause of Action Duty...

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Williams v. Cingular Wireless Cause of Action: Duty or lack thereof Material Facts: Plaintiff was injured by a driver using a cell phone provided by Cingular Plaintiff sued Cingular for negligence in providing the cell phone Lower Court Decision: Trial court dismissed case; Plaintiff appealed Plaintiff Contention: Williams alleged that Cingular was negligent in furnishing a cellular phone to Meagher when it knew, or should have known, that the phone would be used while the user operated a motor vehicle Defendant Contention: Plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief should be granted Issue of Law: Did Cingular owe a duty of care to the plaintiff? (Without a duty, there can be no breach) Law Applied to Facts: Defendant had no relationship to plaintiff so as to create a duty Little or no foreseeability that the sale of a cell phone would cause plaintiff’s injury Imposing a duty of defendant would not be sound public policy Holding: Dismissal of claim against Cingular affirmed.
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Scully v. Fitzgerald Cause of Action: Breach of duty Material Facts: Scully operated a travel agency from a storefront that he had leased in a one-story commercial building located in New Jersey Plaintiff leased store property from defendant Debris in an adjacent apartment building owned by defendant caught fire and the fire damaged plaintiff’s property Plaintiff sued defendant alleging that defendant failed to use reasonable care in maintaining the apartment building Lower Court Decision: Fitzgerald moved for summary judgment. New Jersey court granted his motion after ruling that Scully had failed to provide evidence of a breach of duty on the defendant’s part. New Jersey intermediate court of appeals reversed, saying Scully was not required to prove that Fitzgerald violated a fire code. Appellate court ruled instead that Scully was entitled to show that because Fitzgerald knew his tenants discarded cigs in a way that threatened to ignite flammable material, Fitzgerald had acted unreasonably. Fitzgerald appealed to Supreme Court of NJ Plaintiff Contention: Fitzgerald had failed to use reasonable care to maintain the storage area and that this failure caused the fire Defendant’s Contention: Materials stored on his property were not the equivalent of the inherently dangerous materials stored or maintained by the defendants in Menth and B.W. King Issue of Law: Did defendant landlord breach a duty of care to the plaintiff tenant? Law Applied to the Facts: Landowner may be liable for fire if property kept in unsafe condition and owner did not take reasonable precautions to prevent harm Test: Would reasonably prudent person recognize and foresee an unusual risk or likelihood of harm?
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