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Facts[]

The defendant truck driver, without negligence, knocked down a traffic sign in the middle of a gravel strip dividing a highway. He stopped and removed the debris, but left the cut off metal post in the ground. He mentioned the accident to a garage attendant and evidenced an intention to report it to the authorities but was dissuaded from doing so by the attendant. Oke, while driving the next day, drove into the metal post which came through the floor of his car and killed him.

Issue[]

  1. Is the truck driver liable for Oke's death?

Decision[]

Appeal allowed.

Reasons[]

The majority held that even if the defendant was under a duty to report the accident, the accident was unforeseeable and therefore a negligence claim could not be made. However, Justice Freedman, in the dissent, argued that the accident satisfied the requirement of foreseeability. While the majority argued that the defendant had no more special duty than would arise in any motorist who noticed the broken pole, the dissenting judge disagreed and states that his unique role in causing the damage puts him in a special class of his own. It is not logical to compare him to a mere passer by.

Ratio[]

Even if you are under a legal duty to take responsibility for your negligent actions, a failure to act (nonfeasance) to prevent future harm is not negligent if the type of harm that occurred was not foreseeable.

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