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Roberts v. Ring


    Citation. Roberts v. Ring, 143 Minn. 151, 173 N.W. 437, 1919 Minn. LEXIS 463 (Minn. 1919)

    Brief Fact Summary. Ring (Defendant), seventy-seven years old, hit Roberts (Plaintiff), seven-years old, with his car. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence. Defendant claimed contributory negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. In considering the negligence of a seven-year-old boy, the standard of care, is the degree of care commonly exercised by the ordinary boy of his age and maturity.

    Facts. Defendant, seventy-seven years old, was driving on a busy street. His sight and hearing were defective. (Plaintiff, a seven-year-old boy, ran from behind a buggy, across the street, and in front of Defendant’s car. As he passed in front of Defendant’s car, Plaintiff was struck and injured. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence.

    Issue. There are two issues in this case:
    * Was Defendant negligent in failing to promptly stop his car?
    * Is Plaintiff held to the same standard of care commonly exercised by the ordinary boy of his age and maturity?

    Held. Yes, Defendant was negligent. Yes, Plaintiff is held to the degree of care commonly exercised by the ordinary boy of his age and maturity.
    * The question of Defendant’s negligence was a proper one to be submitted to the jury. Defendant was driving four to five miles per hour, not a negligent rate of speed. However, Defendant testified that he saw Plaintiff just before striking him with his car. It is common knowledge that a car traveling at Defendant’s rate of speed can be stopped within a very few feet. In this case, Defendant drove his car clear over the Plaintiff. The jury could have found that Defendant was negligent in failing to stop his car sooner.
    * The question of Plaintiff’s contributory negligence is also appropriate for the jury. In considering the negligence of a seven-year-old boy, the standard of care, is the degree of care commonly exercised by an ordinary boy of his age and maturity.

    Discussion. In this case, the court makes clear that the question of negligence is one properly submitted to the jury. In assessing Defendant’s negligence the jury must take into consideration Defendant’s age and whether or not Defendant had any physical infirmities.


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