Res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence whereby negligence of the alleged wrongdoer may be inferred from the mere fact that the accident happened, provided (1) the character of the accident and the circumstances attending it lead reasonably to the belief that, in the absence of negligence, it would not have occurred, and (2) the thing which caused the injury is shown to have been under the management and control of the alleged wrongdoer.
Petitioner victim was injured in an elevator installed and maintained by respondent elevator company and located in respondent building. Petitioner brought suit against respondents solely on the grounds of res ipsa loquitur, and the trial court awarded a judgment for petitioner against both respondents, and awarded a judgment for respondent building against respondent elevator company for the full amount, because respondent building was not negligent. Respondents sought review and the appellate court reversed and remanded and held that because there was no finding of negligence on respondent building's part, and that there were no specific acts of negligence on respondent elevator company's part, the judgment against them could not be sustained. All parties sought review.
Was it necessary for the petitioner to prove specific acts of negligence?
The court reversed the appellate court's order and held that liability could be predicated against respondent building because of its independent contractor, respondent elevator company, and that under res ipsa loquitur, it was not necessary for petitioner to plead and prove specific acts of negligence for the jury to decide general negligence.