Negligence: Tort Law and James Frederick Essay

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Professor Tom Carter
LEGL 210(CU 08) BUSINESS LAW I
11 October 2012
Assignment # 1
Negligence
1. Summary of the facts
James Frederick brought a new car 8 months ago. He encountered several issues from the 1st day. The issues involved defective brakes, clutch and transmission. He took the vehicle to the dealer right away, and the dealer tightened the brakes, replaced the clutch (brake pedal) as well as performed additional repairs on the fuel door, trunk door, and transmission. One week later, Frederick was involved in a car accident due to brake failure, where he was unable to come to a complete stop on a highway with busy traffic. Luckily there were no injuries and damages to the other driver. However, as a result of the accident, Frederick suffered a disc herniation and damages to his car. Frederick sues the car manufacturer for negligence: James Frederick (plaintiff) v. The Car Manufacturer (defendant).
2. Existence of Duty of Care
A car manufacturer has a duty to provide cars that are free from defects. If a defective vehicle is deemed unreasonably dangerous (e.g. faulty seat belt buckles, brakes), the manufacturer is liable, even though the faulty design was unintentional because it is reasonably foreseeable that a car with brakes that do not work properly could be involved in a car accident and people could get injured. Consequently, the car manufacturer owes a duty of care to anyone who might be harmed by his conduct. Based on the reasonable foreseeability test, the harm to Frederick is reasonably foreseeable and he is a “neighbour” of the car manufacturer, so the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff exists.
3. Breach of Duty
The car manufacturer breached its duty of care to Frederick by failing to act like a reasonable car manufacturer would have acted. By producing a car with defective brakes and fixing the vehicle improperly, the conduct of the manufacturer is found negligent and fallen below the reasonable standards of care. Consequently, the defendant has violated the Duty of Care to the plaintiff.
4. Legal and Physical Causation
Physical Causation. The car manufacturer’s breach of the duty of care caused the car accident and resulted in damages, which would not have happened but for the car manufacturer’s actions: a) The car manufacturer produced the car with defective brakes b) Frederick informed the car manufacturer about the vehicle’s defects involving the clutch and brakes which were not working properly). The dealer took responsibility to fix all defects, but did it improperly and returned the vehicle with dangerous defects to the owner. Therefore, the accident would not have occurred but for the manufacturer negligent conduct. The “But for” test in this case is workable.
Legal Causation. As pointed out above, the car manufacturer owes the Duty of Care to car buyers and is required to produce vehicles that are free from unreasonably dangerous defects. The car manufacturer should have reasonably foreseen that a car with brakes that do not work properly can cause foreseeable injuries. Therefore, the defendant failes the remoteness test in…