Friday, October 19, 2012

Indiana Consolidated Insurance co. v. Mathew case brief

Indiana Consolidated Insurance co. v. Mathew (1980)
402 N.E.2d 1000

Procedural History
•    Appellant insurer sought review of the judgment from the Noble Circuit Court (Indiana), which found that appellee, the insured’s brother, did not act in a negligent manner so as to be liable for damages done to the insured’s garage when a riding lawnmower that the insured was starting caught fire.

•    When the insured’s brother was attempting to start a riding lawnmower in the insured’s garage, the lawnmower caught fire. The insured’s brother tried extinguish the flame, but was unsuccessful, so he ran to his home to call the fire department. When he returned the garage was totally engulfed in flames.

•    Is one confronted with an emergency not of his making not negligent if he acts according to his best judgement?

•    One who is confronted with a sudden emergency not of his own making is not chargeable with negligence if he acts according to his best judgment.

•    That this particular mower would catch fire at this particular time was not reasonably foreseeable. As one is not required to anticipate that which is unlikely to happen, the trial court did not err in determining that Mathew was not negligent in starting the mower inside the garage.
•    The law values human life above property. Greater risk of one’s person is justified to save life than is reasonable in protecting property. One may be deemed negligent in voluntarily risking life or serious injury for the purpose of saving mere property
•    The sudden emergency doctrine requires the person so confronted to do that which an ordinary prudent man would do under like circumstances. Mathew’s course of action can be deemed an exercise of ordinary prudence

•    The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment that the insured’s brother’s actions did not constitute negligence.

Court’s Reasoning/Rationale/Policy
•    If the risk is not foreseeable then the person should not be held negligent.

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1 comment:

  1. Not a great brief.

    The main take home is that, as long as defendant acts as a normally prudent person would under the same circumstances, he is not negligent.


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