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Law School Case Brief

Boudreaux v. Am. Ins. Co. - 262 La. 721, 264 So. 2d 621 (1972)

Rule:

The principle of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself) sometimes comes into play as a rule of circumstantial evidence whereby negligence is inferred on the part of a defendant because the facts indicate this to be the more probable cause of injury in the absence of other as-plausible explanations by witnesses found credible. Thus, by this principle where properly applied, the circumstantial evidence indicates that the injury was caused by some negligence on the part of defendant without necessarily proving just what negligent act caused the injury.

Facts:

Plaintiff children brought suit against defendant insurer for the wrongful death of their father, who was killed as a result of a fire at the insured restaurant. Their father was suffocated while sleeping in his apartment that was next to the restaurant. The trial court dismissed their case. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed. Plaintiff sought further appellate review..

Issue:

Does the principle of res ipsa loquitor apply in the negligence suit of plaintiff children?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled in favor of the children and against the insurer. The court concluded that the courts below required a heavier burden of proof of the children than was required by law. Proof by direct or circumstantial evidence could amount to a preponderance, and res ipsa loquitur applied to this case. To the court, the evidence in toto showed that the restaurant's negligence was the most plausible or likely cause of the fire that led to the death.

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