Res Ipsa Loquitur

Key Takeaways

1. Ybarra v. Spangard: Res Ipsa Loquitur applies in medical cases where the appellant is not able to determine as to whose negligent act had caused him the injury.

2. Mint v. Good: For Res Ipsa Loquitur carelessness must be proved.

3. Roe v. Minister of Health: In case of an offense that is not intended and the commission of the offense itself was not recognized, the defendant cannot be held liable as it is an unidentified tortfeasor in the current case.

4. Walsh v. Holst & Co. Ltd:Res Ipsa Loquitur doesn't apply in cases where due care has been taken and what is going on beyond the standard control of the defendant.

5. Houghland v. R.R. LOW (luxury of coaches) Ltd.:It was upto the defendant to prove that he wasn't negligent, which is nothing but Res Ipsa Loquitur.

6. Bennett v. Chemical Construction (GB) Ltd.:It's the occurrence of the injury that's important for Res IpsaLoquitor.

7. Ng Chun Pui v. Lee Chuen Tat:Res IpsaLoquitur is applicable in the cases of accident.

8. M.C.Mehta v. Union of India: Res Ipsa Loquitur was applied to shift the burden of proof on the mill owners to point out that they weren't negligent.

9. A.S. Mittal and Anr v. State of U.P. and Ors.: Res Ipsa Loquitur is often applied in matters where all the procedures haven't been followed and aren't just limited to the commission of an act.

10. Achutrao Haribhau Khodwa and Others v. the State of Maharashtra and Others: Res Ipsa Loquitur can't be applied for cases of negligence of common occurrence.

Introduction

The general rule of negligence is that the appellant must prove all the elements of negligence which are the duty of care, breach of duty, and causation. However, in some situations, the facts are enough to prove that the defendant was negligent. This rule of evidence is known as Res IpsaLoquitor which means that the facts speak for themselves. The appellant has to show that the defendant has control over the situation due to which the injury is caused to the appellant and the injury was more likely than not to have been caused by the negligence of the defendant.

In the case Scott v. London & Katherine Docks co. (1865) 3 H&C 596, the appellant was a dockworker who got injured when the large and heavy bags of sugar fell from the crane of the defendant and hit him. The appellant sued the defendant for negligence. The court relied on the principle of Res Ipsa Loquitor and held that this accident would not occur if the defendant had not been negligent on its part. As the defendant was unable to prove that it has not breached its duty towards the appellant, it was held liable.

Res Ipsa Loquitur is an unsuitable type of circumstantial evidence which enables the appellant in specific cases to prove the defendant's negligence. Thus the regulation when applied appropriately doesn't involve any covert type of strict liability. It implies that the court does not know and can't discover what occurred in the individual case. All things considered, the finding of likely negligence is derived from the information of causes for the category of the accidents involved. To find out the application of the principle, there is the Res Ipsa Loquitur test, where it is to be clarified whether the defendant has gone beyond the preparation and has committed an attempt, which is based on whether the defendant’s act itself would have signaled to an observer, what was the intention of the defendant.

The application of the principle implies that an appellant, prima facie, establishes negligence where he can't prove precisely what was the relevant act or omission which set in train the events resulting in the accident; but on the evidence, because it stands at the relevant time it's more likely than not that the effective reason for this accident was some act or omission of the defendant or of somebody for whom the defendant is responsible, which act or omission of the defendant or of somebody for whom the defendant is responsible, which act or omission constitutes a failure to require proper take care of the appellant's safety.Control is requiredon the defendant’s behalf because the absence of control makes it less likely to prove that the accident is caused by his fault.

Case Laws related to Res Ipsa Loquitor

1. Ybarra v. Spangard [154 P.2d 687 (1944)]:The appellant consulted the defendant after having an ache in the stomach region and got diagnosed with appendicitis and got admitted to getting operated on for the same.The appellant was given anesthesia on the day of operation. The next morning, when the appellant got up he experienced a sharp pain in his right arm. The complaint of the appellant was answered to be an ordinary pain symptom that is followed after an operation. After being discharged for a few days, the appellant experienced his right arm being paralyzed making it impossible for him to move or rotate his right arm. The appellant sues the doctor and the nurse along with the hospital for the case of negligence. He was not able to determine as to whose negligence had caused him this injury. The proceeding was taken forward based on Res Ipsa Loquitur that the injury would not have happened in the absence of the doctor's negligence and the doctor and nurse were in total control of the situation. Though there were many defendants involved, it was held that every defendant in whose care the appellant was placed for any period was obliged to exercise the ordinary care to check that no unnecessary harm has been caused to him and each defendant would be liable for failure in this regard. Res Ipsa Loquitur applies in medical cases where the appellant is not able to determine as to whose negligent act had caused him the injury.

2. Mint v.Good [(1950) 2 All ER 1159]:The appellant had been injured by the collapsing of a wallthat was adjoining the highway. The wall formed a part of two houses bring out weekly tenancies and therefore the collapse was because of lack of repair, in respect of which neither the owner nor the tenants were under the covenant. The appellant proceeded against the owner on the idea of Res Ipsa Loquitur that the injury wouldn't have occurred had the defendant been not negligent in maintaining the wall. It had been observed that if an individual is hurt on the highway he must first enquire whether the act which hurt him was related to the defendant’s reasonable use of the highway. If it had been then subject to Res Ipsa Loquitur he must prove carelessness within the actor. If however, the damage is because of an act which the actor had no right to do on the highway in any respect, the victim can recover for foreseeable harm without having to prove carelessness. Thus the defendant was held negligent and responsible for damages.

3. Roe v. Minister of Health [(1954) 2 All ER 131]: In this case, the appellant was admitted to the hospital for some minor operations. The appellant was dispensed with spinal anesthetics by injections of nupercaine and developed spastic paraplegia. The anesthetics were kept in glass ampoules which were immersed in a solution of phenol, and the court found that the injuries were caused by phenol, which could have got into the ampoules through the flaws which were not detectable by the visual examination. The appellant contended that the principle of Res Ipsa Loquitur should be applied against the hospital as the injury would not have happened if the hospital had not been negligent. The court held that the principle cannot be applied in this situation and the defendant cannot be held liable for the same as the very happening of the injury was not foreseeable and even the cause for the injury was beyond the control of the defendants.Therefore, in case of an offense thatis not intended and the commission of the offense itself was not recognized, the defendant cannot be held liable as it is an unidentified tortfeasor in the current case.

4. Walsh v. Holst & Co. Ltd [(1958)-3 All ER 33]: The occupier of premises adjoining the highway was finishing up works of reconstruction, which involved knocking out large areas of the front wall. He employed for that purpose a contractor who further employed a sub-contractor. Since it was reasonably foreseeable that such a piece on the highway could cause injury to a passer-by the workers had taken all care to confirm that other road users are safe. However, on one particular day when only one worker was functioning at the premises, one brick escaped the security netting and hit a pedestrian who proceeded against the defendants for the injury sustained on the idea of Res Ipsa Loquitur. However, the defendants were ready to establish that they weren't negligent as to that they had taken all care to make sure that in no way a road user is injured and what had happened was beyond the standard control of the defendants. Res Ipsa Loquitur doesn't apply in cases where due care has been taken and what is going on beyond the standard control of the defendant.

5. Houghland v. R.R. LOW (luxury of coaches) Ltd. [(1962) 2 All ER 159]: The appellant's suitcase was deposited with the defendant bus owner's driver at the start of a journey. The bus broke down and therefore the luggage was transferred by the owner's servants from the bus's boot to a different bus. At the end of the journey, the suitcase couldn't be found. The appellant was awarded damages and therefore the court held that if the baggage had been lost then it was upto the defendant to prove that he wasn't negligent, which is nothing but Res Ipsa Loquitur.

6. Bennett v. Chemical Construction (GB) Ltd. [(1971) 3 All ER 822]: The appellant was injured when a panel fell on him when it was being moved by the defendant's workmen. There have been some suggestions that the panels had been tied together, but the court held that it had been impossible to see precisely how the accident had happened, but that it couldn't have occurred without negligence on the defendant's workmen's part. The words "Res Ipsa Loquitur" didn't appear within the pleadings or the judgment. On appeal, held, that the case was a classic example of Res Ipsa Loquitur, which was adequately covered within the pleadings by the allegation of negligence. The knowledge of mode during which the injury/accident isn't necessary to use Res Ipsa Loquitur. It's the occurrence of the injury that's important.

7. Ng Chun Pui v. Lee Chuen Tat [(1988) RTR 298]: The first defendant was driving a coach which was owned by the second defendant in Hong Kong. Suddenly, the coach crossed over the central reservation and collided with a bus traveling in the inner lane of the other carriageway, killing one passenger and injuring the driver and three others on the bus. The appellant could not attest that the defendants were negligent and had caused the accident. They moved forward based on Res Ipsa Loquitur and shifted the burden of proof on the defendants to prove that they were not negligent on their behalf. However, the defendants failed to do so. The Privy Council held that the defendants are liable for the appellant's injuries. Therefore, Res IpsaLoquitur is applicable in the cases of accident.

8. M.C.Mehta v. Union of India [(AIR) 1987 SC 965]: More popularly referred to as the Olium gas leak case, this is often a Public Interest Litigation regarding the establishment of enterprises involved in hazardous works in thickly populated areas within the light of the Olium gas leak. The Olium gas leak had occurred within the work premises of Shriram Mills. Olium may be a hazardous gas and this nature of the gas had caused the death of many people and causing serious injuries to the health of others staying within the close vicinity. It had been impossible to determine the negligence of the mill owners and Res Ipsa Loquitur was applied to shift the burden of proof on the mill owners to point out that they weren't negligent. within the PIL it had been pleaded that any industry involved in cases of injuries/damage thanks to the hazardous activities it undertakes then the onus must get on them clear to determine that they weren't negligent. During this case the maxim was made use of to determine negligence and that they were held responsible for the damage and injury caused. It had been further held that any company involved in hazardous activities is going to be held negligent clear and it's upto them to steer the evidence and prove how they're not negligent failing which they're going to be held liable.

9. A.S. Mittal and Anr v. State of U.P. and Ors. [(AIR) 1989 SC 1570]: The defendants had organized a watch camp at Khurja. 88 low-risk cataract operations were undertaken during the time of the camp. It had been, however, disastrous as many of these who had been operated upon lost their eyesight because of post-medical treatment. Proceedings against the govt. initiated for the negligence of the doctors. Damages worth Rs. 12500 were compensatedas interim relief to every of the injured. The choice was on the idea of Res Ipsa Loquitur because the injury wouldn't have occurred if the doctors had not been negligent in not having followed up with post-operation treatment. Res Ipsa Loquitur is often applied in matters where all the procedures haven't been followed and aren't just limited to the commission of an act.

10. Achutrao HaribhauKhodwa and Others v. the State of Maharashtra and Others [(AIR) 1996 SC 2377]: The deceased, the petitioner's relative was admitted to a government hospital for an operation for sterilization. During the operation, a mop was left inside the body of the deceased resulting in pus formation and subsequent death. The petitioner move towards the Supreme Court to knock down the order of the High Court and award the damages worth Rs 1, 75,000. The petitioner couldn't have proved the negligence of the doctors and hence the principle of Res Ipsa Loquitur was applied to carry the defendants liable because the court felt that it had been a negligent act of the defendants which caused the death and that this act was well within the control of the defendants. Though, commonly, certain foreign bodies are generally left behind during a patient’s body during an operation, intentionally or unintentionally which the body generally fights the foreign bodies it had been observed that leaving a mop was particularly a negligent act. The order of the High Court was put aside. Res Ipsa Loquitur can't be applied for cases of negligence of common occurrence but where equivalent negligence is of a high degree causing serious damage then the principle is often applied.

Conclusion

Res Ipsa Loquitur generates an implication of negligence. Itfinds its applicability during the form of situations. Within the U.S. it's mostly applied in cases of economic airplane accidents and road and traffic accidents. Generally, it's applied in cases of medical negligence where it can't be ascertained on which specific act of the hospital had caused the injury and where things aren't outside the control of the hospitals. Res Ipsa Loquitur has applied primarily altogether clear cases, where initially instance the negligence on a part of the defendant is clear and without which the injury wouldn't have occurred. In such a case, it's presumed that the defendant is negligent and it's upto him to prove why he's not negligent.

 

"Loved reading this piece by Preksha Goyal?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Click here to join our Telegram group.

Tags :
Published in Others
Views : 619
Other Articles by - Preksha Goyal
Report Abuse









×

Menu

Post a Suggestion for LCI Team
Post a Legal Query
Muslim Personal Law     |    x