Holding and Reasoning (Allen, J.) Yes. Damages must be established in order to maintain an action in negligence. Damages in a wrongful death claim are provided by statute and are limited to those damages only. Those statutory damages include pecuniary value of life and earning capacity. Kingston v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. 1927 pg 144 Rule of Law When two or more human entities both proximately cause injury to a plaintif, and only one is identified, the plaintif may recover the full amount of damages sufered from the one known wrongdoer. Facts 17
A fire was started from sparks emitted from a locomotive owned by Chicago & N.W. Ry. At the same time, another fire was started by unknown who or what started this fire. Both fires spread, and merged into one fire north of Kingston’s property. Issue Whether, when two or more human entities both proximately caused injury to a plaintiff, the plaintiff may recover for the full amount of the injury from either one. Holding and Reasoning (Owen, J.) Yes. The northeast fire was started by the railroad, and this is enough to hold that entity fully liable for the entire amount of Kingston’s damages. When two or more human entities both proximately cause injury to a plaintiff, and only one is identified, the plaintiff may recover the full amount of damages suffered from the one known wrongdoer. The known wrongdoer may not be held fully liable, however, when the full extent of injury was also proximately caused by an “act of God” or natural disaster. Summers v. Tice 1948 pg. 127 Rule of Law Under the doctrine of alternative liability, two independent tortfeasors may be held jointly liable if it is impossible to tell which one caused the plaintif's injuries, and the burden of proof will shift to the defendants to either absolve themselves of liability or apportion the damages between them. Facts Summers (plaintiff), Tice (defendant), and Simonson (defendant) went quail hunting. A Pellet hit Summers’ eye and one hit his lip. It is unknown which pellet was shot by which man. Summers brought suit for negligence against both Tice and Simonson. Issue Whether, when two defendants both serve as the proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injuries but were not acting together, each defendant may be held liable for the full extent of the damage. Holding and Reasoning (Carter, J.) Yes. When two defendants not acting together both serve as a proximate cause of a plaintiff’s injuries, both may be held liable for the full extent of the damage and the burden of proof shifts to each defendant to work out a fair apportionment of damages among themselves. When it is impossible to know which defendant was the actual cause of an injury, both must be held liable to protect the plaintiff. Otherwise, the plaintiff risks not receiving full recovery for his injuries.
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