Determining Responsibility of Negligence for The Plaintiff’s Injuries – Tort Law Essay (400 Level Course)
Summers V. Tice – 33 Cal. 2d 80,199 P2d 1(1948)
Facts: Plaintiff’s action was against both defendants for an injury to his right eye and face as the result of bring struck by bird shot discharged from a shotgun. The case was tried by the court without a jury and the court found that on November 20, 1945, plaintiff and the two defendants were hunting quail on the open range.
Each of the defendants was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with shells containing 7 1/2 size shot. Prior to going hunting plaintiff discussed the hunting procedure with defendants, indicating that they were to exercise care when shooting and to ‘keep in line.’ In the course of hunting plaintiff proceeded up a hill, thus placing the hunters at the points of a triangle. The view of defendants with reference to plaintiff was unobstructed and they knew his location. Defendant Tice flushed a quail which rose in flight to a ten foot elevation and flew between plaintiff and defendants. Both defendants shot at the quail, shooting in plaintiff’s direction. At that time defendants were 75 yards from plaintiff. One shot struck plaintiff in his eye and another in his upper lip. Finally it was found by the court that as the direct result of the shooting by defendants the shots struck plaintiff as above mentioned and that defendants were negligent in so shooting and plaintiff was not contributorily negligent.
Judicial History: The circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiff for injuries received while hunting. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court of California denied the hearing of the appellants.
Issues: Whether the defendant’s are guilty of negligence for the plaintiff’s injuries. Whether the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence in the hunting accident. Should both defendants’ be held jointly and severally liable?
Rules: Yes, both defendants’ are guilty of the negligence caused to the plaintiff in the hunting accident. The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court. The Supreme Court of California denied a hearing.
Analysis: The court found that both defendants had shot at the same time in the direction of the plaintiff and knew his location. The defendants acted negligently. It has been held that when a hunting party does exist that it is known to stand in a straight line. Both defendants are held liable when shooting in the direction of the plaintiff. It is up to the defendants to determine the others negligence compared to their own.
Conclusion: The judgment was affirmed.