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East Texas Theatres, Inc. v. Rutledge

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Rutledge (plaintiff) sued East Texas Theatres, Inc. (defendant) for negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    For a defendant to be the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff must prove that but for the defendant’s negligent conduct, the injury would not have occurred.

    Facts.

    While at the defendant’s place of business, a movie theatre, the plaintiff watched a movie from a main floor. The theatre also had a balcony where patrons could watch from. During the movie, several items were thrown from the balcony including paper cups. There was a lot of commotion coming from the balcony as well. As the plaintiff was walking up the aisle after the movie, someone threw a whisky bottle from the balcony, striking her in the head. No one knew who threw the bottle. The plaintiff claimed negligence for failing to remove the disruptive patrons throughout the movie.

    Issue.

    For a defendant to be the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff must prove that but for the defendant’s negligent conduct, the injury would not have occurred?

    Held.

    Yes. For a defendant to be the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff must prove that but for the defendant’s negligent conduct, the injury would not have occurred.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    One of the required elements of negligence is that the plaintiff must show the defednat conduct was the actual cause of their injury. To prove this, a plaintiff must show that but for the defendants alleged negligent conduct, they would not have been injured. Here, there is no evidence that but for the defendant’s negligent conduct the injury would not have occurred because the plaintiff has failed to prove that by removing one set of rowdy patrons it would have prevented other patrons from also being rowdy. Also, the plaintiff has failed to prove that if the defednat had removed certain patrons who were throwing cups, that other patrons still would not have thrown other stuff. There is no proof removing the patrons would have a deterrent effect.


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