Law Paper Essay, Research Paper
The plaintiff, Bill, walks through a residential neighborhood along an unpaved road on his way to work. Wally, the defendant and a Wilson County School bus driver, drives towards Bill while lighting a cigarette. Wally begins to swerve and causes Bill to jump into Carol’s yard; this action results in damage to Carol’s prize-winning zinnias, the breaking of Bill’s ankle, and the loss of Bill s wallet. Bill realizes his wallet is lost, so he returns to Carol’s yard (which has no trespassing signs and a fence in violation of a city ordinance) the next day, and retrieves his wallet without any further damage. Between Bill v. Wally, Bill v. Wilson County and Carol v. Bill, the issues of negligence, assault and battery, emotional distress, trespass to real property and intrusion arise; however, Bill v. Wally has the strongest case.
In Bill v. Wally, the defendant is liable for the tort of negligence. Wally is guilty of negligence because there was a breach of duty, proximate cause, and injury. Wally had a legal duty to conform to a standard of conduct of driving established for the protection of other people. He breached that duty when he failed to conform to that standard. Wally also, as a county bus driver, would have some sort of bus license or certification beyond a normal driver s license. This additional training compels his liability to be held to a higher standard of law, beyond a reasonable person s standard.
Lighting a cigarette while driving on an unpaved road shows Wally s negligence in driving the bus. With only one hand on the wheel, he cannot take all the precautions necessary when driving on a substandard road. The facts of the case clearly state that the defendant lost control of the bus because he was trying to light the cigarette. Thus, we can establish proximate cause. The plaintiff jumped off the road to avoid the bus coming towards him, and he would not have done so but for the defendant s loss of control. Having no time to think during this emergency situation, Bill jumped off the road, breaking his ankle.
We must remember it is because the defendant lit his cigarette that he lost control; the loss of control was not due to the substandard road, and thus, is not a defense for Wally. Another possible defense is Bill s assumption of risk. The defendant could argue that Bill assumed the risk of walking down an unpaved road with no sidewalk. However, the plaintiff could not knowingly assume the risk of a bus driver losing control of his bus.
Secondly, when Wally careened towards Bill along the unpaved road, it put Bill in apprehension of bodily harm. Thus, Wally is liable to Bill for assault, but only if intent can be proven. Assault is defined as intentional conduct that places another in apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Under tort law, intent can be construed as believing that the consequences are almost certain to occur. First, the road being traveled upon was unpaved with no sidewalk. Since Wally was driving on an unpaved road with a pedestrian walking towards him, he had reasonable cause to believe that errant driving would force Bill off of the road. When Wally attempts to light the cigarette while driving, he must assume that the bus will swerve slightly, due to a break in his concentration. Thus, Wally knows that by lighting his cigarette he is almost certain to swerve. The connection of this with the substandard road shows that Wally should have known that his action would cause Bill harm. If Wally knows that his veering will cause Bill harm, it is intent.
Additionally, in Bill v. Wally, infliction of emotional distress occurs when an individual s act is so extreme that he or she imposes emotional distress as well as resulting physical harm from that recklessness. Wally, who could have caused a fatality, did not have a requisite intent to injure Bill. Therefore, one could easily question the weakness of a charge against Wally for infliction of emotional distress. However, upon examining the definition of intent, intent does not require a hostile or evil motive. Rather, it means that the actor believes the consequences are substantially certain to result from that act and most often within that act, physical injury occurs. Under the reasonable person standard, driving is a skill that requires complete attention at all times. Wally, as a bus driver, ensured to protect the safety of society s most fragile passengers children- would have known pursuing another activity while driving was dangerous and reckless, especially one involving a lit cigarette. He knew that this action was a foreseeable accident. With a conscious intent, he ignored the standard of a reasonable person, and thus, a potential fatality ensued. Upon ascertaining Wally s liability for infliction of emotional distress, how and to what extreme did Bill, an innocent bystander, suffer? Because Bill was forced to trample into prize-winning zinnias, he faces the long-term stress of a possible lawsuit against him. None of the events would have taken place with Carol, but for Wally s negligence. Bill s lost wallet, loss of work and wages, the physical injury of a broken ankle, a possible lawsuit over damage to property, and the trauma of seeing his life flash before his eyes all lead to one conclusion: Bill suffered extreme emotional distress. It can only be concluded that Wally had the intent to inflict emotional distress on an innocent bystander by his reckless and extreme action in the face of his superior knowledge on safety as a bus driver. In response to Carol vs. Bill, Bill is not liable for infliction of emotional distress because no bodily harm was inflicted. The act of destroying flowers is damage to property and does not fall in the domain of outrageous conduct. Furthermore, because Bill has no liability, liability does not transfer to Wally for emotional distress. THERE IS NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS IF YOU GUYS DON T THINK YOU CAN PROVE INTENT.
In the case Carol v. Bill, the issue at hand is that of trespass to real property. By entering onto Carol s land from the road, Bill is liable for trespass. However, since Wally forced Bill onto the property through his negligent driving, the liability is transferred upon Wally.
In Carol v. Bill, the plaintiff wants to sue for trespass to real property. Under the definition of trespass, one manner of trespassing is to cause a third party to enter a property. Therefore, if it is proven that Wally gave Bill no other choice than to enter Carol s property, he is liable to Carol for trespass and the damages incurred from the trespass. This argument is hinged upon the fact that Bill was forced to enter the property since he had no other choice of escaping the path of the bus. If Wally can prove that Bill had another route of escape besides onto Carol s land, the liability for trespass falls on Bill. For the second charge of trespass, when Bill returned to get his wallet, Carol can hold Bill liable for trespass since he forcefully entered upon her property. He was not forced by another and knew that the property was protected due to the fence and the No Trespassing sign. Bill s one defense to this charge is the fence s violation of the city height ordinance. The fence exceeded the ordinance s limit of six feet and therefore was an illegal structure; here, Carol is charged with negligence per se. Thus, Bill was not damaging Carol s legal property by tearing down a section of the fence. It may also be possible for Bill to file a countersuit against Carol for trespass to real property. Since Carol intentionally put up a fence in order to keep him out, Bill was not able to immediately regain his wallet. Thus, he was deprived of the use of the wallet and its contents, which may include many necessary items such as identification, money and credit cards. Although she did not directly interfere with Bill getting his wallet, the act of fencing her property with his wallet on that property constitutes Carol depriving Bill of his personal property. In order to prove herself innocent to this charge, Carol must prove that she was unaware of Bill entering or possibly leaving his property upon her land. This would show that it she did not have intent to prevent Bill from recovering any of his possessions and unaware of his presence. DID CAROL HAVE ANY DUTY TO BILL?
Finally, under respondeat superior, Bill and Carol can also sue the Wilson County School System for all the actions that they sue Wally for. In this case, Bill can sue for negligence, assault, and emotional distress; Carol can sue for trespass to real property. Since Wally carries out the process of the school system s business of providing a safe way for children to get to school, his tortious acts hold the school system liable because they are his employer.
Throughout this case, the issues of negligence, assault, emotional distress and trespass to real property arise. Bill seems to have the most issues to sue both, Wally and the school district; Bill has a strong argument for negligence, negligence per se, emotional distress and assault. While Carol can sue Bill for trespassing when he returned for his wallet, he has a defense that Carol s fence was in violation of a city ordinance. Carol may not sue Bill for damage to her zinnias; however, since Wally forced Bill onto Carol s property through his negligence, Carol may sue both Wally and the school district under respondeat superior.