Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New information on Summers v. Tice

The blog Concurring Opinions has a short comment on the classic old case Summer v Tice - the case most law students remember as the case of the hunters who shot the plaintiff in the eye.  The post, by Kyle Graham, states he visited the California State Archive and reviewed the old case file where he found some interesting new information.

The case, as you may remember, is used to discuss the issues that arise when the plaintiff can't identify who from among two negligent actors actually caused the injury.  In the case, there were two negligent actors but  only one could have actually caused the injury. Given these circumstances, the court decided to switch the burden of proof to the defendants to show that they did not cause the injury.

The old case file, apparently, tells a slightly different story.

Apparently, Tice argued that the plaintiff could have identified the person whose conduct caused the injury but lost that chance due to his own negligence.  Tice testified that he had been using No. 6 shot, whereas Simonson (the other shooter) had been using No. 7½ shot. He argued that the two pellets are of slightly different size, and capable of distinction and that the reason that the distinction was not made was that the plaintiff lost the pellet after it was removed.  In fact, the plaintiff himself testified that, although the shot had been given to him after its removal, he could not find it when he looked for the pellets at his home.

Thanks to TortsProf for the link to the new information.

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