Defenses to Negligence

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Defenses to Negligence

Eleven-year-old Neal Peterson collided into forty-three-year-old David Donahue on a Minnesota ski slope in February of 2000. Peterson was headed down the slope at a fast speed when he struck Donahue who was travelling at a slow speed across the slope toward the parking lot. In seeking compensation for his injuries, Peterson filed suit against Donahue alleging negligence. As both skiers claim to be experienced, understand the associated risks and collisions involved with skiing, and were traveling in different directions and at different speeds at the time of the incident, the negligence claim against Donahue must be thoroughly evaluated. In analyzing this case, I will research which type of defense Donahue is most likely to use, how the court will most likely apply that defense in this situation, and the reasoning behind my logic. As Shapo explains, “the dimensions of responsibility for injury generally, present constant challenges to lawyers, judges, and commentators” (2006, p. 1). In situations where negligence is claimed, defendants can claim one of three main defenses to negligence: assumption of risk, superseding cause, and contributory and comparative negligence, as well as applying special negligence doctrines including res ipsa loquitur, negligence per se, and the “danger invites rescue” doctrine (Miller & Jentz, 2012, p. 103). To begin with, it is easy to rule out the superseding cause defense in this case, as an unforeseeable intervening event did not occur. According to Chalat, ski law is state law; therefore any accidents that occur in Minnesota would be governed by Minnesota law (2009). Negligence per se can also be dismissed as a defense to negligence as there is no indication that Donahue violated a statute or ordinance that would have otherwise prevented the collision, as Minnesota does not have a ski safety statute (Chalat, 2009). In applying the contributory and comparative negligence defense to...
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