McDougald v. Perry

Supreme Court of Florida, 1998.

716 So.2d 783.

Prosser, pp. 232-236


Facts: The plaintiff was driving behind a tractor-trailer driven by the defendant when its spare tire came off and hit the plaintiff’s windshield.  The plaintiff sued and won at trial when the judge instructed the jury on res ipsa loquitor.  The defendant appealed and had the judgment overturned.  Then the plaintiff appealed.


Issue: Does res ipsa loquitor apply to the facts of this case?


Rule: Res ipsa loquitor applies when (1) the thing that caused the injury was in the exclusive control of the defendant, and (2) the accident wouldn’t have happened without someone being negligent.


Analysis: The court finds that the spare tire coming loose is the sort of accident that can only be caused by negligence and that the person who was in charge of keeping the spare tire from flying off was the defendant.


Conclusion: The court vacates the judgment of the appeals court and orders that the trial court verdict be reinstated.


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