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Law School Case Brief

Jones v. Robbins - 289 So. 2d 104 (La. 1974)

Rule:

The vendor of gasoline has the duty not to place it in the hands of those who, by reason of age or other disabilities, are unaware of the special propensities of the material, and of the precautionary measures which must be taken when using or storing it.

Facts:

The plaintiff, Willie Leon Jones, is the father of the minor child, Candy Jones. The defendants, Henry Robbins and George Robbins, are the owner and the manager, respectively, of Robbins Gulf Service Station in Mansfield, Louisiana. This action was filed to recover damages incurred when four-year-old Candy suffered burns caused by gasoline she accidentally ignited, gasoline which had been obtained from George Robbins at the Robbins Station by her six-year-old half-sister. The six-year-old and another sister used the gasoline to wash some paint off their hands and left the gasoline sitting in their back yard. 

Issue:

Can Robbins Gulf Service Station be held liable for the injury that involves a gasoline sold by them to a six-year old child?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court found that Robbins Gulf Service Station was the cause in fact of the injury. The court determined that the service station had a duty not to sell gasoline to a six-year-old child because of its dangerous nature and the court found that the duty extended to the four-year-old sister because the act of placing gasoline in the hands of so small a child carried with it the realization that the substance involved an unreasonable risk of harm to others. The court found that the manager who sold the girl the gasoline was liable for the damages cause pursuant to La. Civ. Code Ann. arts. 2315 and 2316, and that the owner of the service station was liable for the damage cause by his servant pursuant to La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2320.

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