October 17 Case and Notes

October 17 Case and Notes - Friday Effect of Statute Martin...

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Friday October 17, 2008 Effect of Statute Martin v. Herzog Court of Appeals of New York, 1920 Law: To omit, willfully or heedlessly, the safeguards prescribed by law is to fall short of the standard of diligence to which those who live in organized society are under a duty to conform. Facts: PL and husband were driving their buggy shortly after sundown when they were struck by a car going the same direction. The husband was killed. The car was rounding a curve when it came upon the buggy which was unlit. Reasoning: Jurors were allowed to treat the omission of lights as either innocent or as culpable. Jurors have no dispensing power by which they may relax the duty that one traveler on the HWY owes another under the statute. The omission of lights was a wrong, and being wholly unexcused was also a negligent wrong. The absence of lights was a contributing cause of disaster. Evidence of a collision occurring more than an hour after sundown between a car and an unseen buggy, proceeding without lights, is a causal connection between the collision and lack of lights. Issue: Whether the omission of lights on the buggy was the causal connection between the negligence and the injury? Procedure: Jury found for Df. App Div. Reversed and ordered a new trial. Holding: Affirmed with costs to Df. Notes from the Case: Issue of whether P was negligent. Should have had lights, since you had no lights, and it contributed to the accident, that’s it, case over! Cannot have a cause of action because they did not have lights on the buggy. Zeni v. Anderson Supreme Court of Michigan, 1976 Law: Out of three possible rules, this court chooses the following: Violation of an applicable statute only makes a prima facie case for negligence that may be rebutted if it can be shown that the violation is excusable. Facts: The plaintiff was walking in a roadway facing away from traffic on a snowy day when the sidewalk was impassible. The defendant hit her. The plaintiff sued, but the defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s conduct constituted contributory negligence because it was a violation of statute to fail to use the sidewalk or to walk in the street facing towards traffic. The jury found for the plaintiff but the verdict was reversed on appeal. The plaintiff appealed in turn. Reasoning: The court finds that the statute that is relevant to the current case gives the jury a clear guideline for determining whether the plaintiff was negligent and whether such negligence contributed to the plaintiff’s injury. The court concludes that the jury was correctly and adequately instructed. Issue: Was the jury right in finding the plaintiff negligent? Procedure:
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Holding: The court reverses the decision of the appellate court and affirms the jury verdict. Notes from the Case:
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This note was uploaded on 10/20/2009 for the course TORTS 106 taught by Professor Palmer during the Fall '08 term at McMaster University.

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October 17 Case and Notes - Friday Effect of Statute Martin...

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