Weirum v. RKO Gen., Inc.

15 Cal. 3d 40, 123 Cal. Rptr. 468, 539 P.2d 36 (1975)



While the question whether one owes a duty to another must be decided on a case-by-case basis, every case is governed by the rule of general application that all persons are required to use ordinary care to prevent others from being injured as the result of their conduct. However, foreseeability of the risk is a primary consideration in establishing the element of duty.


A decedent's wife and children brought an action for wrongful death against a radio station. Decedent's car was negligently forced off the highway by one of two minors who were attempting to follow a disc jockey's automobile as part of a contest run by the radio station. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the decedent's family. On appeal, the Superior Court of Ventura County affirmed. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of California.


Is the radio station liable?




The Court held that it was foreseeable that the radio station's youthful listeners would race to arrive first at a location to claim a prize, and in their haste disregard highway safety. The court held that the harm to decedent, although caused by third parties, was stimulated by the radio station’s broadcast.

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