Case Study on Negligence - Stella v Christine
Stella can take an action of Negligence against Christine for her careless conduct regarding the slippery floor as well as the heating urn and steamer. She will be the plaintiff, and Christine, the defendant. Stella bears the burden of proof that Christine owed her a duty of care, but omitted to perform it, which caused her personal injuries and economic loss. The elements, including duty of care, breach of duty of care, and damage, must be proven on the balance of probabilities. If proven, Stella will probably be able to claim monetary compensation for her medical costs, loss of earnings, and suffering and pain. At the meanwhile, however, ...view middle of the document...
In our case, any reasonable person could have foreseen a real risk of injury to the students incurred by Christine’s careless conduct about the slippery floor as well as the heating urn and steamer on a table inside the over-crowded classroom. Therefore, Christine owed Stella a duty of care. Particularly, Christine was fully aware of the risk from the oversize of class, as she “found that she was not able to effectively supervise the students” and some students suffered from physical injuries when she had 35 students in one class.
b. The relationship of the defendant to that risk
Whether the defendant is in a controlling position through resources, knowledge, legal duty or right or not is taken into account. Christine, as Stella’s yoga instructor who hired the classroom and arranged the place, was in a controlling position.
c. The nature of the damage that the plaintiff suffered
The context in which the damage occurred is considered. In Nagle v Rottnest Island Authority , the plaintiff "dived from a partially submerged rock ledge into the water. Almost immediately, his head struck a fully submerged rock and he became a quadriplegic". The trial judge concluded that the Board was under a general duty of care at common law to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risks of injury to visitors lawfully visiting the Reserve.
In our case, Stella was seriously injured while performing some yoga posture in Christine’s class. The urn and steamer that fell onto Stella’s body from table had been used by Christine. Hence it can be established that Christine is liable for the damage.
In summary, the relevant elements can be proven that Christine owed a duty of care to Stella.
Breach of the duty of care
Section 9(1) Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) gives three tests for breach of the duty of care.
a. A foreseeable risk.
There was such a risk that a reasonable person would have foreseen if they were in the position of the defendant. and
b. Non-insignificant risk.
There was at least a probability of harm. And
c. Reasonable precautions would have been taken.
In the circumstances a reasonable person in the position of the defendant would have taken precautions.
Correspondingly, the court shall take into account the following four elements when deciding whether the duty of care has been breached, according to s 9(2) CLA:
a. The probability of risk or injury
In Bolton v Stone , the court held that the cricket club was not negligent because the likelihood of harm was low, that is, the probability of a person being struck by a cricket ball which was hit out of the ground was low.
By contrast, in of Graham Barclay Oysters Pty Ltd v Ryan , the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed Barclay Oysters’ appeal that they had not breach the duty of care to consumers and the final decision was that the Barclay Company was negligent.
In our case, the combination of slippery floor and heating urn and steamer on a table...