Cases in which the defendants were held liable for negligence

Ans. There have been many cases in which defendants have been held liable for negligence. Here are a few examples:

  1. Donoghue v Stevenson (1932): In this case, the plaintiff drank ginger beer from a bottle that contained a decomposed snail. She became ill and sued the manufacturer, claiming that they were negligent in allowing the snail to enter the bottle. The court held that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, and that they had breached that duty by failing to ensure that the bottle was free of contaminants.
  2. Palsgraf v Long Island Railroad Co. (1928): In this case, the plaintiff was standing on a train platform when a man attempted to board a moving train. Two railroad employees were trying to help the man onto the train, and in the process, a package he was carrying fell onto the tracks and exploded. The shockwaves caused scales at the other end of the platform to fall on the plaintiff, injuring her. The court held that the railroad owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, but that the defendant’s actions were not the proximate cause of her injuries.
  3. Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants (1994): In this case, the plaintiff spilled hot coffee on herself while sitting in a car parked at a McDonald’s drive-thru. She suffered third-degree burns and required skin grafts. The plaintiff sued McDonald’s, claiming that they were negligent in serving coffee that was too hot. The court found that McDonald’s had acted with reckless disregard for the safety of their customers, and awarded the plaintiff $2.7 million in damages.
  4. Tarasoff v Regents of the University of California (1976): In this case, a psychologist at a university clinic was treating a patient who had expressed a desire to kill a specific person. The psychologist informed the campus police, but did not notify the potential victim. The patient later carried out the threat and killed the intended victim’s daughter. The court held that the psychologist had a duty to warn the potential victim of the threat, and that their failure to do so constituted negligence.
  5. In Yatayat Nigam Udaipur v. Union of India, there was public highway going across the railway track and on the border of the road near the railway crossing there was a hedge and trees. The level crossing at the relevant time was an open and unmanned level crossing with no gate, no chain barrier, no watchman and there was absolutely nothing to caution the users of the road. When a bus was crossing and its major length and already cleared out, a goods train passed and its engine struck against the hind part of the bus with great force. Bus was damaged. It was held that the Railway administration did not take adequate steps to warn the public of approaching trains. This amounted to negligence on the part of Railway administration.
  6. Sorabji v. Jamshedji, the defendant was driving a party, including the plaintiff, in his motor car from Deolali to Igatpuri. The road passed a level crossing. A train was timed to pass the crossing about the time. The defendant, who was driving his car at an excessive speed, got on the level crossing but failed to take the sharp right handed turn after the crossing. The car left the road just beyond the crossing, jumped down the embankment which was ten feet high and rushed into the paddy field below. The occupants of the car with the exception of the defendant, were thrown out with much violence and the plaintiff received such grave injuries which rendered him a cripple for the rest of his life. The plaintiff sued to recover damages caused to him by the defendant’s negligence. It was held that the defendant was grossly and culpably negligent, and that he was liable in damages.
  7. In Jaunpur Municipality v. Brahmkishore, where plaintiff fell down in a trench caused by the Municipality. There was no light or barrier for safety. The defendant was badly injured. The defence of contributory negligence was not allowed and the compensation was granted.
  8. In Poonam Verma v. Ashwani Patel, Supreme Court held the defendant responsible for the death of the plaintiff husband. Here the defendant was a homeopath doctor he prescribed an alopathy medicine which caused the death of the plaintiff. The Court held the act as a gross negligence.
  9. In a case the Kerala High Court in T.T. Thomas v. Elisa, laid down that failure to perform emergency operation and death of patient on account of such failure amounts to negligence on the part of surgeon. When surgeon advises a plea that patient did not give his consent for the surgery or the course of treatment advised by him the burden is on him to prove that the non-performance of the surgery or the non administration of the treatment was on account of refusal of the patient to give consent thereto. This especially so in a case when the patient is not alive to give evidence. Consent is implicit in the case of patient who submits to doctor and the absence of consent must be made out by the person alleging it. A surgeon who failed to perform emergency operation must prove with satisfactory evidence that the patient refused to undergo the operation not only at the initial stage but even after the patient was informed about the dangerous consequences of not undergoing operation.
  10. In C. Chinna Thambi, v. Tamil Nadu, where two children died in accident caused due to fall of water tank of the school building. The High Court held the school authorities responsible for the accident and allowed a compensation of Rs. 1,50,000.
  11. In State of Haryana v. Santara Devi, the Supreme Court held the State Govt. Responsible for negligence. In the case the plaintiff got a child even after the operation of tubectomy.

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These are just a few examples of cases in which defendants have been held liable for negligence. In each case, the specific circumstances of the situation were carefully considered by the court, and the defendant was found to have breached their duty of care, resulting in harm or injury to the plaintiff.

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