Saturday, December 31, 2005

Now taking nominees for worst torts case.

So I'm a little libertarian and am very much against the tort system (except for satanic computer companies of course) and so I would like to nominate Kalechman as the most horrifically unjust case.

My understanding is that Kalechman had gotten a rental car from his boss, his father-in-law was driving it with K as passenger, and his bad driving killed them both. His wife, acting under an assigned wrongful death claim, sued the rental car company, of course! The rental company was statutorily liable in NY: whoever owns the car is liable for a negligent driver.

To do this, the court had to overcome an old stagecoach-era rule that if the passenger was the exclusive legal authority over the car, the driver's negligence would be imputed to the passenger. They called this a legal fiction, which it is.

All the while, the court overlooked the biggest legal fiction: that a rental car company could have any sort of reasonable liability to the plaintiff for a perfectly fine rental car driven badly by the decedent's father-in-law, and the plaintiff's father!

I think that's pretty unfair. Any other cases?


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