Tom Parker who was driving in the opposite direction saw the accident. It was none too difficult to miss since the Freedmans' vehicle had (now) caught fire. Parker parked his car and ran across the highway to help the Freedmans who were entangled in the wreckage. He pulled Mrs. Freedman from the car, then Robert Freedman. Parker then took a floor mat from the passenger side to use as a pillow for Mrs. Freedman, and discovered a pistol lying on the floor. Assuming that it belonged to Mr. Freedman, he gave the pistol to him and Freedman, who had become temporarily deranged from the shock of the accident, presuming Parker to be an assailant, fired a shot in his direction, seriously wounding him in the left ankle. At this point, Hunt rounded the corner with a full can of gas only to find a mess of wrecked vehicles, an unconscious women, a trigger-happy madman, and a wounded Good Samaritan, who shortly thereafter slapped him with a hefty podiatrist bill. Should Hunt be held liable for Parker's injuries?
Did Hunt cause Parker's injury?
Is Hunt liable in damages for Parker's injury?
It might be helpful to evaluate the implications for a decision in this case of Hart and Honore's analysis of causal chains or Cardozo's "foreseeability" approach in Palsgraf. See, for example the first three puzzlers and the puzzler about John, the gun store owner, who sells a gun to a minor. Do you remember how you decided these puzzlers? Under what sort of an analysis would the defendant be liable? Not liable?
Imagine that we expand upon the "facts" of this case as outlined above in order to explore how a change in this or that fact might affect your reasoning.
To imagine, for example, that Robert Freedman had not become "temporarily deranged" as a result of the accident, but had "his wits about him," and had pulled out a revolver and shot Parker.
Or to imagine that Robert Freedman was operating his motor vehicle at an excessive, unreasonable, and unlawful speed.
Prepared: February 4, 2003 - 5:02:29 PM
Edited and Updated, February 5, 2003
Philosphy of Law