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Reasonable Person .docx

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Social Science
SOSC 1375
Olena Kobzar

1 Reasonable Person Lecture [For the reading: What’s the problem of applying the standard of a reasonable person?] Tort Law Derived from a Latin word meaning a ‘wrong’ Most of our criminal law was once tort law Dates back to a time when courts first saw the need to remedy a wrong Covers cases where a person causing an injury has no lawful right to do so No precise definition – a civil wrong Most of our criminal law was once tort law Courts have to balance individual freedom and injury when deciding negligence cases ***Hint – what does this mean?*** Vaughan vs. Menlove (1837):  First time the courts articulated the standard of a reasonable person  An English tort case – concepts of the reasonable person were first elaborated by judges  Mr. Menlove built a haystack near his neighbor’s property, which wasn’t properly built  Two of Mr. Vaughn’s cottages were destroyed in a fire  The jury in the trial had to decide whether Mr. Menlove proceeded with such reasonable caution as a prudent man would have exercised under such circumstances Key questions to consider: What is a ‘reasonable caution’? Who is a ‘prudent man’? Duty of care Duty of Care: ‘right duty relationship’ in tort law Duty is owed to the injured party - this duty must be violated by an act or an omission Concept of Foreseeability: a difficult concept for court to apply without some sort of a standard; an element of tort liability was difficult for courts to apply; a standard that has to be determined before damages for an unintentional act could be determined Reasonable Person: a mythical person used as a ‘bench mark’ by the courts 2 Courts measured the actions of the negligent person against what might be the actions of the reasonable person in the same situation The reasonable person was presumed to posses normal intelligence and would exercise reasonable care in their actions towards others Negligence: People are found liable in negligence more often for their acts than omissions Rarely does a person have a legal duty to act positively; rather duty is defined as a duty to refrain from acting negatively No ‘mens rea’ – guilty state of mind or intention to commit a wrong is necessary Tort Liability and the Reasonable Person 1 Question: Would a reasonable person in similar circumstances have foreseen the injury to t
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