Cases addressing Torts
Link to Supporting Resource
Plaintiff is suing for IIED. Westboro picketed the funeral of plaintiff's son. Westboro held signs disagreeing with America's tolerance of homosexuality. SCOTUS found the issue turned on whether the speech was of public or private concern. Speech is of public concern when it can be considered as relating to any mater of political, social, or other concern to the community. If the speech is of public concern, it is protected. It is irrelevant whether the speech is inappropriate or controversial. SCOTUS found that Westboro's picketing spoke to broader public issues and was therefore shielded.
Holding: The 1st Amendment shields Westboro from tort liability for its picketing.
The plaintiff was a secretary at the insurance company, Northern Corp., and was promoted against the general manager, Krasbeth's wishes. He wanted a man to fill the position, so after her promotion he constantly made sexist and derogatory remarks to Swenson. The manager then demoted her to a lesser position, for less money, and did not allow her to apply for the new positions that become available. Furthermore, her demotions and denial of applying for new positions were not due to poor work performance. Swenson tried to talk to Krasbeth about the demotion, and he refused to speak with her. Sweson was a recovering alcoholic, and Krasbeth was aware of this. Swenson then quit and sued the company and Krasbeth for numerous claims, including IIED. The majority of the court found that the conduct of Krasbeth constitutes outrageous conduct based on the words used, and the context and background of the words used. The significant background factors the court identified are 1. The position of authority Krasbeth had over Swenson as her manager, and 2. Krasbeth's knowledge of Swenson's emotional state being in recovery. The court remanded for trial on the IIED claim.
The concurring opinion by Justice Levine,
Sex discrimination is enough, it "debases, devalues, and despoils the victim." Additionally, it strikes twice: 1. the act itself, and 2. the realization that we are helpless to overcome the act, undo it, or change it.
This case was on appeal for failing to instruct the jury as to whether a minor operating a snowmobile should be held to the adult standard of care.
F: Damages were sought for personal injuries when Kelly Robinson lost full use of her thumb in a snowmobile accident where Bill Anderson was the driver. Robinson was 11, and Anderson 13 at the time of the accident. The trial court instructed the jury to assign the reasonable child standard of a child of the same age, intelligence, maturity, training, and experience would exercise under the same circumstances.
A: Exceptions to the child standard has been created by courts to deal with children engaging in inherently dangerous activities, to be held to the adult standard of care. This is done to protect the public, and discourage immature individuals from engaging in inherently dangerous activities. Operating a snowmobile requires adult care and competence, and is an inherently dangerous activity. Therefore, a child engaging in this activity is going to be held to the adult standard of care. At the time of the accident, the 13 year old driving the snowmobile had experience driving them for two years. He was operating the a powerful motorized vehicle at speeds of 10-20 MPH. For these reasons, Anderson has demonstrated that he has the experience and was engaging in this inherently dangerous adult activity, and should be held to the adult standard of care.
R: When the activity a child engages in is inherently dangerous, such as operating a vehicle/snowmobile, the child should be held to an adult standard of care.
C: Because of petitioner's experience operating snowmobiles, he should be held to the standard of care and conduct expected of an adult.
H: The court granted a new trail.