Case Study: Dangerfield and Associate Entities

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[. . .] While he did react swiftly and immediately, there was an inherent imprecision to his actions: he needs to be precise in all things, just like a surgeon engaging in open heart surgery. For him to blame Hartman for being unpredictable is absurd. Consumers in nearly every business setting are going to be unpredictable to a certain extent; that's the nature of who they are and how they react when they're clients. It's up to the business to be three moves ahead at all times. There is absolutely no room for the "mistake" that Mitchell made.

Causal connection is yet another element that needs to be proved in negligence cases and in this scenario there's absolutely no doubt as to the causal connection. Hartman was pinned between two cars purely as a result of Mitchell's negligence. In standard negligence cases, the "but-for" cause needs to be proven: "In other words, but for the defendant's actions, the plaintiff's injury would not have occurred" (findlaw.com, 2013). In the example given with the surgeon and the heart surgery patient, one can clearly see that if it were not for the negligent actions of the surgeon, there would be not vein/artery damage to the patient. In the immediate case scenario, the cause and effect is equally as lucid. Another factor to take into consideration is the amount of proximate cause, or the depth of responsibility of the given defendant. "Proximate cause relates to the scope of a defendant's responsibility in a negligence case. A defendant in a negligence case is only responsible for those harms that the defendant could have foreseen through his or her actions" (findlaw.com, 2013). Thus, the key ideas are that had Mitchell acted appropriately, Hartman would not have been hurt. While Mitchell was correct to react quickly, he was unable to react in a correct manner, demonstrating that he was unable to manipulate the vehicle effectively at will. The defendant has not caused damages that are beyond the scope of the risks that are beyond what the defendant could have foreseen.

The final pillar in determining that Mitchell was indeed responsible for negligence revolves around the damages are harm done. "A plaintiff in a negligence case must prove a legally recognized harm, usually in the form of physical injury to a person or to property. It is not enough that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care. The failure to exercise reasonable care must result in actual damages to a person to whom the defendant owed a duty of care" (findlaw.com, 2013). As stated earlier, the damages and harm done to Hartman are an undeniable instance of cause and effect. Thus, the facts all demonstrate that Mitchell is liable and as an employee of Dangerfield, this means that Dangerfield is liable as well (and Continental and Sandman in connection). It is the absolutely responsibility of a company to hire competent people to complete the jobs needed to be done. It is up to Dangerfield to properly screen employees and to ensure that all staff members hired are skilled workers who are qualified to complete the tasks that they have been hired to do. All of Mitchell's actions point to the fact that he is in fact incompetent and unable to complete the basic requirements of his job. At the very least, Mitchell is expected to be able to manipulate and control and automobile with proper dexterity, speed, and accuracy. In injuring Hartman, Mitchell demonstrated that he was completely unable to fulfill even those basic tasks.

Dangerfield is ultimately accountable for the injuries inflicted on Hartman as they were the one who hired Mitchell in the first place. "Torts based on negligence protects individuals from harm from others' unintentional but legally careless conduct. As a general rule, we have a duty to conduct ourselves in all activities so as to not create an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to others. Persons and businesses that do not exercise due care of their conduct will be liable for negligence in a wide range of torts if any or all of the four pillars of torts negligence law are proven (such as duty of care etc.…)" (Meiners, 2006). Thus, Dangerfield is at fault in hiring a valet who was unable to react appropriately. The issue is not that Hartman was in the path of his vehicle; the issue at hand was that the valet hit the accelerator when he meant to hit the brake, a mistake a teenager who had just got his driver's license might have made. The actions of Dangerfield are comparable to someone who has hired a marksman with shoddy credentials or an incomplete skill-set. A marksman who is hired by a company who is anything other than precise, correct and professional at all times is a recipe for complete disaster. The hiring of an incompetent valet compromises the right of all patrons to a reasonably safe environment (Feinman, 2005).

Thus, in regards to torts, one can conclude that Mitchell had a duty as a valet to Hartman, that duty was breached, and that Hartman suffered because of it; these are all basic pillars to support the claim of negligence on behalf of the company (Carper et al., 2008).

As asserted earlier, for Mitchell to claim that Hartman was negligent in her actions is completely absurd, though perhaps the only line of attack for the defense to take, as this paper will later reflect. As the professional in the situation, it is his duty to engage in safe and secure actions at all times, controlling correctly the several-ton metal vehicles that he was hired to move around. However, Mitchell's lawsuit again Dangerfield, Continental and Sandman might actually have some merit. According to the case study, when Mitchell realized his mistake, he flew out of the care to assist Hartman, but slipped in the snow sustaining his own considerable injuries. While the company is not expected to be able to control the weather, they are expected to provide a safe and secure working environment for all their employees (Elearn, 2012). If one of their employees sustained considerable injuries simply getting out of a vehicle, and making contact with the snow-covered ground on their property, that indicates that the company has not provided a safe working environment for all employees (Wiggins, 2012). There is a fundamental standard of both safety and record-keeping that it appears Dangerfield did not engage in (Delpo & Guerin, 2009). This employee sustained serious and long-term injuries at work and action and it appears that the company was negligent for not taking proper action to make sure the employee was protected from a potential slip and fall (Hughes, 2013). This is a clear example of a preventable injury/accident (Lewko, 2009) and could have been avoided all together if the company had taken some actions like putting thick layers of salt or sand over the snow for the valets.

Potential Defenses

The defense for Dangerfield, Continental and Sandman is flimsy but does exist. However, their legal team should attempt to engage in the standard line of defense for negligence cases which is to attack the four-pillars of establishing negligence. "A business may defend against a negligence claim by attacking any of the four negligence elements. Possible defenses include (1) challenging the status of the plaintiff (e.g., invitee v. licensee) and the corresponding duty of care, (2) asserting that it acted in accordance to the requisite standard of care, (3) attacking the causal link between act or omission and harm or injury, or (4) questioning whether the plaintiff suffered any actual loss" (inc.com, 2013). However, the legal team defending these entities will no doubt want to help them escape a portion of the liability in proving that the injured party was also negligent (inc.com, 2013). Thus, in order to effectively engage in this tactic, the legal team will have to prove that Hartman was being negligent, wild, capricious or otherwise unreasonable in her actions. The idea behind living in society with other people is central to torts; some actions can be tolerated, whereas others cannot and people are free to do as they please as long as their actions don't infringe on others (Miller et al., 2009). Torts law orbits around the idea of the reasonable person standard, and the defense for these three companies would have to rely heavily on proving that Hartman's actions were unreasonable. It's also possible that the defense could argue that Hartman being an adult who has been in valet lots before was acting unreasonable in stepping into the driver's trajectory of traffic. One could argue by simply labeling the area as "valet parking" the company had done their due diligence in warning Hartman and all patrons (Best et al., 2007). Thus, it will be crucial for the defense to portray the actions of Hartman as a clear example of "carless conduct" which posed an inherent risk to her and to others (Statsky, 2011).

Beyond these two lawsuits, the additional… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Dangerfield and Associate Entities.  (2013, May 30).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/dangerfield-associate-entities/6443003

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"Dangerfield and Associate Entities."  Essaytown.com.  May 30, 2013.  Accessed June 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/dangerfield-associate-entities/6443003.