Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shull v. B.F. Goodrich Co. case brief

Shull v. B.F. Goodrich Co. case summary
477 N.E.2d 924 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant driver challenged a judgment of the Wells Circuit Court (Indiana), which entered a verdict for defendant company in an action seeking damages for the company's alleged negligence in maintaining a dock-plate that malfunctioned, injuring the driver.


-A truck driver was injured when a dock-plate in the company's loading dock malfunctioned.
-The driver claimed the company was negligent in maintaining the dock-plate.
-The trial court refused to instruct the jury as to the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
-Judgment was entered in favor of the company and the court reversed and remanded for a new trial.

-The court noted that the tendered instruction on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur correctly stated the law.
-There was evidence from which it could have reasonably been concluded that it was more likely than not that the accident resulted from the company's negligence and that the dock-plate was in the company's exclusive control.
-Because the doctrine was not covered by other instructions, the court concluded that the trial court's refusal to give the instruction was error.

-The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence allowing an inference of negligence to be drawn under certain factual circumstances.
-It is premised upon an assumption that in certain instances an occurrence is so unusual that, absent a reasonable justification or explanation, those persons in control of the situation should be held responsible.
-While the occurrence oftentimes is "unusual" in the sense of being rare or bizarre, that is not a prerequisite to the application of the doctrine.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the judgment in favor of the company in the driver's action seeking damages for the company's alleged negligence and ordered a new trial.

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