Chapter 11 The Tort of Negligence
Business Law in Practice
- Meat is an Ontario based food processing and distributive company
- Several consumers died or sickened from a bacteria that infected the mean processed
- CEO instituted recall, closed production and asked for testing
The Law of Negligence
What is Negligence
- Carelessness as a failure to show reasonable care
- Plaintiff need not show that the defendant intended to cause the damage
- Tort of negligence makes the defendant liable for failing to act reasonably
Steps to a Negligence Action
- step 1: does the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care
o liable if it owes a duty of care (responsibility owed to avoid carelessness that causes harm to
others) to anyone who might be reasonably affected
o neighbor principle: anyone who might reasonably be affected by another’s conduct
o Stage 1: Is there a prima facie (at first sight or on first appearances) duty of care?
Is the harm that occurred a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s act?
Is there a relationship of sufficient proximity between the parties such that it would not
be unjust or unfair to impose a duty of care?
o Stage 2: Are there residual policy considerations outside the relationship of the parties that may
negative the imposition of a duty of care?
No longer considers the relationship between the parties but asks question in more
- Step 2: did the defendant breach the standard of care?
o Judged according to the standards of behavior that would be observed by the reasonable person
(standard used to judge whether a person’s conduct in a particular situation is negligent)
o In cases involving specialized tasks, courts introduce the standard of the reasonable person with
that specialized tasks
o Where the activity or product poses a high risk, the law imposes a higher standard of care
- Step 3: did the defendant’s careless act (omission) cause the plaintiff’s injury?
o causation (relationship that exists between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s loss or
injury, little difficulty reaching decision by asking: would the harm not have occurred but for the
- Step 4: was the injury suffered by the plaintiff too remote?
o Remoteness of damage (the absence of a sufficiently close relationship between the
defendant’s action and the plaintiff’s injury o Thin skull rule: principle that a defendant is liable for the full extent of a plaintiff’s injury even
where a prior vulnerability makes the harm more serious than it otherwise might be
- Tort law is traditionally reluctant to permit recovery for pure economic loss (financial loss that results
from a negligent act where there has been no accompanying property or personal inj