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Category Archives: Tort

The unforeseeable plaintiff

Making sense of the world requires–nay, demands–that we find patterns in events. And, as part of modernity, we’ve become used to the clear-headed, formalised pattern-finding of law and science. There are ways to look for explanations, and things that ought properly to be discarded along the way. That’s why we have ‘legal method’ and ‘scientific […]

Lumley v Wagner: The Nonperformance of the Cantatrice

I love cases. I simply love cases. I love the drama of them, and I love to go hunting for extra facts about the case. The case of Lumley v Wagner (1852) 1 De GM & G 604; 42 ER 687 involved Johanna Wagner, a famous German singer (and the niece of Richard Wagner). She […]

‘Manners cost nothing’

…My mother used to say, when she reminded my siblings and me to keep still tongues in our heads. As a general rule, it is a bit discomforting to reach one’s mid-thirties and discover that one’s dear old ma was right more often than not, but there it is. I’ve been put in mind of […]

Occupier’s Manslaughter – who is responsible for toddler drownings?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a landmark case is being brought in New England, where a landowner is being charged with manslaughter after a toddler from a neighbouring house wandered into his yard, got through the unmaintained fence and drowned. Mr Cameron [the pool owner] was inside his Armidale home watching television one afternoon […]

When does the reasonable person eat chips?

Recently the High Court has had to decide when it was likely that a person might eat hot chips. Seriously. In Strong v Woolworths [2012] HCA 5, the unfortunate plaintiff slipped and fell on a hot chip which had been left on the ground outside Big W at Centro Taree Shopping Centre. She suffered serious […]

Some people have all the (bad) luck

When we lecturers write exam questions involving hypothetical legal problems, we create a string of mishaps which happen to one poor hypothetical plaintiff. Occasionally students complain that these scenarios are not realistic. This morning in the Herald Sun, I read this story, and I think I’ll show it anyone who complains about unrealistic bad luck […]

Bottle Rockets in unmentionable places

Lowering the Bar has a post detailing a negligence claim against the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and one of its drunken frat boy members. Shortly, the plaintiff was injured after the drunken ATO member attempted to fire a bottle rocket out of his backside, but it exploded instead, startling the plaintiff, who fell off an […]

Wrongful birth – claiming for a disabled child

In The Age today there’s an article about a couple with a severely disabled child suing an IVF practitioner in negligence: Debbie and Lawrence Waller love their 11-year-old son, Keeden, but they believe he should never have been born. Just days after Mrs Waller gave birth in August 2000 following IVF treatment, Keeden suffered a […]

Some food for thought: Reist v Wilson

Various people wrote thoughtful responses to my piece on the distinction between principled and means-end limits to law in the context of the ongoing Melinda Tankard Reist v Jennifer Wilson dust-up. I was rather busy last week and so didn’t respond; I figured I ought to respond, so here are some comments and thoughts (still, […]