Law School Case Brief
Frederick v. Detroit - 370 Mich. 425, 121 N.W.2d 918 (1963)
When a duty arises as a matter of law between a carrier and its passengers, it is the common law duty of due care and it may be defined simply as the duty to exercise such diligence as would be exercised in the circumstances by a reasonably prudent carrier.
Plaintiff sought reversal of an adverse jury verdict and denial of her subsequent motion for a new trial on the ground that the trial court (Michigan) instructed the jury improperly on the degree of care owed by a common carrier to its passengers. The case went to the jury on plaintiff's theory that defendant bus company negligently permitted the rubber flooring of its bus to become worn and that it negligently omitted to provide a railing. She claims that the instruction given, for all practical purposes, advised the jury that common carriers owed their passengers the same degree of care and diligence that others owed one another in the pursuit of their daily affairs.
Did the trial judge properly instruct the jury on the degree of care owed by a common carrier to its passengers?
The court agreed with plaintiff that the instruction imposed upon the bus company only the duty of due care, but that was a correct statement of the law. Upon close analysis, the instruction fairly conveyed to the jury its obligation to determine whether the bus company's actions constituted due care and its right, in making that factual determination, to find that a reasonably prudent common carrier in like circumstances would have exercised greater diligence than would a reasonably prudent person in the pursuit of affairs unlike those of a common carrier. The instruction was a substantially correct statement of the law of the case. The verdict and denial of a new trial were affirmed.
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