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Follett v. Jones

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Jones (plaintiff) sued Follett (defendant) for wrongful death arising out of a car accident.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    When measuring damages for a negligence claim the standard is would the plaintiff have suffered the same injuries absent the negligence.

    Facts.

    The defendant collided with the plaintiff’s car while driving. The plaintiff went to the hospital to get checked out and the doctor took several x-rays. The x-rays revealed that the defendant suffered several injuries stemming from the accident. It was also discovered the defendant had terminal lung cancer and he died 17 days after the accident. An expert witness testified at trial that the plaintiff eventually would have died from the lung cancer, but the crash accelerated the time of death. The jury found that the defendant was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s death and warded damages. The defendant argued since there was no evidence of how long the plaintiff’s life expectancy was shortened due to the crash, he should prevail.

    Issue.

    Whether when measuring damages for a negligence claim that standard is would the plaintiff have suffered the same injuries absent the negligence.

    Held.

    Yes. When measuring damages for a negligence claim that standard is would the plaintiff have suffered the same injuries absent the negligence.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    The jury must reduce damages given to the plaintiff if they would have suffered similar injuries regardless of the tort, even if the defendant is the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. When a plaintiff would have suffered the same injuries absent the defendants conduct, they must prove by how much the defendants conduct increased the plaintiff’s injuries, or in this case accelerated his death. Here, the plaintiff gave no evidence of how much time was taken away from the plaintiff’s life due to the defendant’s negligence.


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