Hill v. Sparks

546 S.W.2d 473 (Mo. Ct. App. 1976)



The standard of the reasonable man requires only a minimum of attention, perception, memory, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment in order to recognize the existence of the risk. If the actor has in fact more than the minimum of these qualities, he is required to exercise the superior qualities that he has in a manner reasonable under the circumstances.


Plaintiffs' decedent was killed while riding on a ladder attached to an earth moving machine at a field demonstration of heavy construction equipment. Defendant machine operator claimed that there was no evidence from which the jury could have found that he was negligent in failing to warn the decedent of the perils of riding on the ladder because the danger was obvious. He also claimed that the decedent was contributorily negligent as a matter of law.


Was there enough evidence showing that the operator was able to meet the requisite standard of care to free himself from negligence and liability?




The court found that contributory negligence cannot be attributed to the death. The fact that evidence on the contributory negligence issue came largely from plaintiffs' witnesses does not affect the right of the trial court to exercise the discretionary authority granted it. 

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