Question One – Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
• In this case, what basic problem faced the plaintiff (the woman who became ill) in successfully bringing an action against the manufacturer of the product?
• What new legal rule did the court develop and why was this such a significant case?
While shopping at an Eastfield mall, Margaret decides to use the toilet. As she uses a walking frame, she goes in to the toilet available for persons with a disability. When it is time to leave she pushes the button on the wall which is supposed to open the sliding door. It does not work and Margaret is trapped in the toilet. She does not have a mobile phone to call anybody for assistance.
Thirty minutes after she first becomes trapped she is freed from the toilet as a passerby hears her and fetches Eastfield security staff. Margaret is quite upset, but otherwise in good health after this ordeal. Eastfield had not checked the operation of this door in the centre since it was installed five years ago, despite an engineer’s recommendation that it should be inspected yearly. Advise Eastfield about its possible legal liability to Margaret.
Basically, you will need to advise Eastfield about what torts, if any, it may have committed against Margaret and whether Margaret can recover damages (compensation) for any damage she may have sustained.
John Waite is a builder with some thirty years’ experience. He contracts with John and Kelly Smith to renovate their newly-acquired, old inner-city bungalow. He completes the task.
Six months later, the Smiths have some friends round for a barbecue. Rebecca, one of the friends, is leaning on the newly-constructed veranda railing (the veranda and railings were constructed by John Waite) when it suddenly gives way and she falls into the adjacent lane-way. She is only slightly bruised but as she recovers from the fall and stands up a car enters the lane way and hits her, causing serious injury.
The Smith’s do not have public liability insurance over the home so Rebecca decides to sue John Waite, the builder, in negligence. Do you believe she will be successful? Either way, give reasons for your opinion.
Jarvis is employed as a mechanic at Motorfix Ltd. Jarvis’ role is to service vehicles. A customer, Sharon, brings in her Lotus Elan sports car for servicing. After Sharon leaves, Jarvis needs to drive the car a short distance across the car park to the pit for servicing. However, being very impressed with this car, he decides to take it for a short drive around the block. He sees a good stretch of open road and speeds up to see how well the car accelerates. As he speeds up he waves to a group of young women, and as he becomes distracted he loses control of the car and smashes into a building. The car is badly damaged but Jarvis avoids serious injury.
Do you believe that Sharon can successfully bring an action in tort? If so, what torts may have been committed?
If she can recover damages, against whom will she recover – Motorfix or Jarvis?
Shelley rents a residential property across the road from a small factory which produces various types of pet food (the proprietor of this factory is “Bone Appetite Ltd”). As the demand for Bone Appetite products has increased, the company has increased production overall and started producing overnight. The machinery used in the factory is very noisy and has been keeping Shelley and her children awake at night very regularly. There has also been a terrible odour coming from the factory which has caused Shelley to avoid sitting out on her porch and her children no longer play in the front yard of the property. The factory does not have a large enough car park for the increased number of workers since production increased. The result of this is that employees have occasionally parked on Shelley’s property.
What liability in Tort do you think Shelley could establish against Bone Appetite? Explain your reasoning and also indicate any remedy/ies that Shelley may be able to seek.