Miller v. Civil Constructors, Inc. Case Brief |




Brief Information

Miller v. Civil Constructors, Inc.
Case Citation:
651 N.E.2d 239
1. Complaint was that PL was injured when a stray bullet ricocheted during the course of firearm practice in a nearby gravel pit and caused him to fall from his truck.
Should dfd be held strict liable for the resulting dmg from the ricocheting bullet?
Rule of strict/absolute liability is confined to things or activities which were extraordinary or exceptional or abnormal so that there was some special use bringing with it increased danger to others.
Factors to determine abnormally dangerous:  (a) existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person, land or chattels of others; (b) likelihood that the harm that results from it will be great; (c) inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care; (d) extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage; (e) inappropriateness of the activity to the place where it is carried on; and (f) extent to which its value to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes

Also looks at the place and it's surroundings/environment to judge this threshold of strict liability.
Risk of harm to persons or property, although great, can be virtually eliminated by exercise of reasonable or even utmost care under the circumstances. (strict liability reserved for activities which no degree of care can truly provide safety)…use of firearms is a matter of common usage and harm comes from their misuse and not their use….activity was located in a quarry which was suitable location…target practice was of some social utility to the community b/c cops were target practicing

Held that PLs allegations are legally insufficient to show activity should be declared ultrahazardous so as to subject dfds to claims premised on a theory of strict liability.
Additional Notes:
Professor's Notes:
- Ultrahazardous = dangerous no matter where it goes on while abnormally dangerous is locale specific
- Reasonable care would virtually eliminate the hazard in this case
- Storage of TNT is more passive than actively setting it off
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