ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. Consolidated appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which awarded Charles A. Summers, Plaintiff damages for personal injuries arising out of a hunting accident, in Plaintiff’s negligence action against two hunters, Harold W. Tice and Ernest Simonson (Defendants). Both hunters negligently fired, at the same time, in Defendant’s direction.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. If Defendants are independent tortfeasors, and thus each liable for the damage caused by him alone, but it is impossible to prove whose conduct actually caused the harm, many jurisdictions presume that each Defendant was the actual cause of the Plaintiff’s injury. The wronged party should not be deprived of his right to redress.
On appeal, the court affirmed, because it determined that Defendants failed to meet their burden of proving who was responsible for Plaintiff’s injury, therefore, because each acted negligently, each was responsible to Plaintiff for damages from the injuries he sustained. The court reasoned further that it was Defendants’ burden to offer proof as to the apportionment of damages. Because they failed to meet that burden, it was in the discretion of the trier of fact to apportion the damages.
Issue. Did the trial court err in entering judgment in Plaintiff’s favor?
Held. No. The judgment of the lower court was affirmed because Defendants failed to meet their burden of proving who was responsible for Plaintiff’s injury; therefore, because each acted negligently, each was responsible to Plaintiff for damages from the injuries Plaintiff sustained.
The injured party has been placed by defendants in the unfair position of pointing to which defendant caused the harm.View Full Point of Law