Chapter 12

Case Problem with Sample Answer



12-5. Duty of Care
As pedestrians exited at the close of an arts and crafts show, Jason Davis, an employee of the show's producer, stood near the exit. Suddenly and without warning, Davis turned around and collided with Yvonne Esposito, an eighty-year-old woman. Esposito was knocked to the ground, fracturing her hip. After hipreplacement surgery, she was left with a permanent physical impairment. Esposito filed a suit in a federal district court against Davis and others, alleging negligence. What are the factors that indicate whether Davis owed Esposito a duty of care? What do those factors indicate in these circumstances? [Esposito v. Davis, 47 F.3d 164 (5th Cir. 1995)]

Answer (Pages 430-432)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, applying Louisiana law, noted that "[t]he amount of caution demanded of a person * * * is the result of three factors: the likelihood that his conduct will injure others, taken with the seriousness of the injury if it happens, and balanced against the cost of the precaution he must take to avoid the risk. If the product of the likelihood of the injury exceeds the burden of the precautions, the risk is unreasonable and the failure to take precautions is negligence." Furthermore, "Louisiana law recognizes a legal duty on the part of employees to exercise reasonable care not to obstruct the flow of pedestrian traffic." Thus, "it is plain that the burden imposed upon Davis to keep a proper lookout in the access area to a building, is light compared to the likelihood of serious injury when a patron is knocked to the ground. The burden of such a precaution is reasonable in order to protect customers or pedestrians in their use of the access areas to a building." Esposito was awarded approximately $250,000 in damages.


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