Friday, October 19, 2012

Robinson v. Lindsay case brief

Robinson v. Lindsay (1979)
598 P.2d 392

Procedural History
•    Defendants appealed a Court of Appeals (Washington) affirmation of a trial court’s grant of plaintiff’s motion for a new trial based on an improper jury instruction regarding the standard of care.

•    Plaintiff was injured in a snowmobile accident and sued defendant, the thirteen-year old driver of the snowmobile.

•    May a child be held to a lesser standard of care even though he is engaged in an inherently dangerous activity?

•    A child will be held to an adult standard of care when he engages in an inherently dangerous activity such as the operation of a powerful motor vehicle.

•     The State of Washington Supreme Court believes a better rationale is that when the activity a child engages in is inherently dangerous, as is the operation of powerful mechanized vehicles, the child should be held to an adult standard of care.

•    Appellate court’s affirmation of trial court’s grant of plaintiff’s motion for a new trial was affirmed. Court stated that defendant had engaged in the inherently dangerous activity of the operation of a snowmobile, so he should have been held to an adult standard of care.

Court’s Reasoning/Rationale/Policy
•    Courts in other jurisdictions have created an exception to the special child standard because of the apparent injustice that would occur if a child who caused injury while engaged in certain dangerous activities were permitted to defend himself by saying that other children similarly situated would not have exercised a degree of care higher than his, and he is, therefore, not liable for his tort

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