Dangerfield Inc A Delaware C Corporation Case Study
- Length: 10 pages
- Sources: 15
- Subject: Business - Law
- Type: Case Study
- Paper: #65288388
Excerpt from Case Study :
Dangerfield and Associate Entities
Upon examining this case, it's clear that the claims made by Hartman are completely legitimate. The claims made by Mitchell are somewhat legitimate. This paper will first examine the basis of the lawsuit waged by Hartman, as the bulk of the valid accusations made are made by this particular plaintiff. The crux of Hartman's lawsuit is based on the claim that Dangerfield was liable for the negligence of its parking attendant along with independent negligence. Hartman then claims that Dangerfield and Sandman were fundamentally liable by association. While these aren't the exact details of why Hartman was suing these connected entities, it does boil down the fundamental reason. The essential element of Hartman's case boils down to primary tort's law. "A person is negligent if he fails to exercise ordinary care to avoid injury to other persons or their property. In other words, he failed to do something a reasonably careful person would do or he did something a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances. For example, if a person causes an auto accident because he was driving faster than was safe for the existing conditions, the resulting lawsuit will likely include a negligence claim" (inc.com, 2013). Notice in this example the person driving too fast would still be accused of negligence even if he was driving too fast for the existing conditions by accident. Thus, in the case described above, it doesn't matter that Mitchell's foot slipped off the break and onto the accelerator by accident, all that matters in the primary sense was that it did.
This is directly connected to duty of care. Duty of care is one of the four elements that a plaintiff must present and prove for a negligence claim. "A duty of care is owed to all foreseeable plaintiffs, which means that a reasonable person would have foreseen a risk of injury to the plaintiff under the circumstances. If such a duty exists, the standard of care is that of a reasonably careful or prudent person. In other words, a person's act or omission is measured against that of a reasonably careful person in similar circumstances" (inc.com, 2013). The key words here are "reasonably careful person." One needs to judge the actions of Mitchell, and employee of Continental (and thus Dangerfield and Sandman) against the standards held for any other valet. One of the fundamental expectations for a valet is to not hurt people when parking and moving cars. Cars are potentially lethal weapons that is precisely one of the reasons why there are so many laws and restrictions on driving, driving age and driving conduct that has long been in place. To say that a company expects a valet to not hurt people when moving cars is part of the job description. This is not to imply that being a valet is a profession that presents abnormal danger (Hall et al., 2002) but the danger is inherent and there. Whenever anyone gets behind the wheel of a car, the potential for imminent danger is definitively there and the potential to hurt a passenger of a pedestrian is absolutely possible.
A comparable example would be of a surgeon engaging in open heart surgery with a patient. The surgeon is using a scalpel and a range of other extreme sharp tools. The surgeon relies on these tools to help heal and repair the patient, but the damage to cause harm is also possible. For example, if the surgeon's hand slips and the surgeon accidentally slices through an important vein of the patient, that surgeon is still liable. Using this example, one could argue that the Hippocratic oath and the tenet "first do no harm" applies to all people who work with vehicles as it does with the medical community. Vehicles have such a strong capacity to harm, as do those in the medical community; the burden is to ensure that harm is first not caused, above all else. "In certain circumstances, a person may be subjected to a heightened standard of care. This arises when a person possesses special professional or technical skills or training. For example, in making a medical decision, a doctor must exercise the degree of care that a reasonably careful doctor would under similar circumstances. Furthermore, if the doctor is a neurosurgeon, then he must exercise the degree of care that a reasonably careful neurosurgeon would under similar circumstances" (inc.com, 2013). Thus, one can easily make the argument that when the stakes are so high, there is a heighted standard of care. A failure to enforce a heightened standard of care indicates that the environment is become ripe for distrust and fear, something which will no doubt act as a damning and crippling force to the business entities as a whole.
Even those who claim that too much emphasis has been put on the burden of establishing or finding duty of care in negligence cases, would still find Mitchell and thus Continental, Dangerfield and Sandman negligent by even the loosest standards. "Even though it offers a compelling account of the responsibility-component in the negligence standard -- arguably the Holy Grail of negligence theory -- it is a mistake to conceive of the duty of care in negligence as a duty to try to avert harm. My goal here is to explain why and to point to an alternative account of the responsibility-component in negligence" writes Herstein of Cornell Law School (2010). Herstein believes that the problem with the ways that negligence theories are enforced nowadays have to do with the fact that they over-burden the defendant, and essentially make the defendant overly responsible. As Herstein asserts, many defendants are accused of negligence when they fail to prevent harm. That's not necessarily every defendant's job. Many of these defendants need to merely demonstrate that they were fulfilling the duty that they were hired for and nothing else (Herstein, 2010). "The flaws in conceiving of the duty of care as a duty to try are: failing to comport with the legal doctrine of negligence and failing as a revisionary account for the law; overly burdening autonomy and restricting the liberty of thought; adversely affecting the prevention of negligent harm -- the essence of the negligence standard --; and, raising severe probative difficulties. Moreover, the duty of care also does not give rise to what I call a de facto duty to try. The duty of care is better construed to require only certain conduct and not trying" (Herstein, 2010). However, even if one were to embrace these truly loose standards of the duty of care, one could still find Mitchell, and thus the named three entities, negligent. Given the potential and the capabilities for harm of any automobile along with the sheer capacity to inflict tremendous damage, one of the fundamental aspects of any job description with vehicles is directly connected to the fact that the driver must not cause any harm or damage. For a driver to say that his foot slipped is akin to a surgeon saying his hand slipped and his scalpel hit a major vein or artery. There's absolutely no excuse and only flimsy defense for this. "In the business context, a company may owe various duties of care to customers, strangers, neighbors, and even competitors. These duties of care may arise when an electrician enters company premises, when an employee with a company car drives out to entertain clients, or even when a stranger passes through the company parking lot" (inc.com, 2013). There needs to be an essential standard of care and safety.
The fact that Mitchell claims that Hartman was negligent is absolutely ridiculous. According to the case study, Mitchell contended that Hartman was negligent because she walked in front of his car knowing that it was about to go into motion. Unless Hartman is a mind reader, there's actually no way that she could have known for a fact that his car was about to move. In this scenario, Mitchell is the valet and is expected to be the consummate professional in this situation. By being the consummate professional, he needs to fulfill his duty -- though he did not, which adds up to breach of duty, another necessary pillar when accusing someone of negligence. Hartman is thus also responsible for establishing breach of duty. "A defendant is liable for negligence when the defendant breaches the duty that the defendant owes to the plaintiff. A defendant breaches such a duty by failing to exercise reasonable care in fulfilling the duty. Unlike the question of whether a duty exists, the issue of whether a defendant breached a duty of care is decided by a jury as a question of fact" (findlaw.com). Essentially, in order for a case to become a negligence case, there needs to be a duty that becomes breached that was expected to be fulfilled and which was not.
As a consummate professional, Mitchell is expected to be alert at all times and to…