Case Brief Wiki


In 1981 McCarty checked into Pheasant Run, a resort hotel, to attend a Sears business meeting. In one wall of her second-floor room was a sliding glass door equipped with a lock and a safety chain. The drapes were drawn and the door covered by them. McCarty left the room for dinner and a meeting. When she returned, she undressed and got ready for bed. As she was coming out of the bathroom, she was attacked by a man with a stocking mask. He beat and threatened to rape her. She fought him off, and he fled. Although McCarty's physical injuries were not serious, she sued Pheasant Run for negligence in not provided for her security. She was unsuccessful at the lower courts, which she appealed.


  1. How should negligence be determined?


Affirmed in part, reversed in part.


Posner says that while the Hand Formula theoretically makes a great deal of sense, ordinarily the parties involved do not give the information necessary to conduct the test accurately. However, he says that it is still a good measure and can be used to attempt to make judgments of reasonableness. The formula has greater analytic than operational significance.


The Hand Formula is more useful as an analytic tool than as an exact measure of when something is negligent.