Law School Case Brief
Hill v. Lundin & Assocs., Inc. - 260 La. 542, 256 So. 2d 620 (1972)
If the defendant's conduct of which a plaintiff complains is a cause in fact of the harm, a court is then required in a determination of negligence to ascertain whether the defendant breached a legal duty imposed to protect against the particular risk involved.
The contractor had been hired to repair hurricane damage to a house. When they finished the job, repairmen employed by the contractor left a ladder leaning upright against the house, anticipating that it would be retrieved by other contractor personnel. An unknown person moved the ladder from its position against the house, and laid it in the yard. The babysitter tripped on the ladder, fell, and injured herself. The intermediate appellate court held that the contractor's negligence in leaving the ladder at the job site was the proximate cause of those injuries.
Did the court err in finding that the contractor was liable to the babysitter for personal injuries suffered when she tripped over a ladder that the contractor left at a job site?
The court reversed. Leaving the ladder leaning against the house unattended was not negligence per se because, under the circumstances, that conduct did not create an appreciable range of risk for causing harm. The record was devoid of evidence tending to establish that the contractor could reasonably have anticipated that a third person would move the ladder and put it in a position that would create a risk of the harm that befell the babysitter. Accordingly, the contractor was under no duty to protect the babysitter from the risk that gave rise to her injuries.
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