Prof. Eric E. Johnson

Some notes about practice answers for

The Great Northwoods Lumberjack Show

November 2021

For an optional, ungraded practice exam exercise, several Fall 2021 students submitted responses to questions 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the Fall 2019 Torts final exam, The Great Northwoods Lumberjack Show (available at

The responses were generally very good! But the purpose here is not grading or assessment—it’s helping everyone get better—so I’m just focusing on areas for improvement. Thus, for this document, I only picked out snippets where something went wrong. No snippet below is verbatim from any student’s response. They are generally re-written composites based on similar material from multiple students.

1. Discuss prospects for liability of Lawson Loblolly’s Great Northwoods Lumberjack Show to Payne Pinyon for negligence; include in your analysis a prospective defense of contributory negligence based on Payne’s conduct. Treat the lumberjack show employees’ actions as the actions of Lawson Loblolly’s Great Northwoods Lumberjack Show. And because of S.R.S. §88-88, do not use the traditional special land owner/occupier rules for duty.

PP has a good negligence case against LL. The element of duty is met because PP can be considered a foreseeable plaintiff, since PP is at LL’s show. LL breached its duty because the 44-44 statute requires some sort of physical barrier where the guy wire is anchored to the floor. Actual causation is satisfied because PP would not have been hurt but for LL violating the statute. The fourth element is satisfied because it’s foreseeable that not supplying the barrier required by the statute could cause a tripping injury to PP. The injury element is met because PP’s kneecap was broken.

PP has a strong prima facie negligence case against LL. PP is a foreseeable plaintiff, therefore, the element of existence of duty is met. The breach element is met because LL can be shown to have breached their duty when we consider the reasonable person standard in conjunction with S.R.S. §44-44: LL breached its duty of due care because the reasonable person would have obeyed the §44-44 statute requiring safety cones or some physical barrier at the anchor point. Actual causation is met because but for LL’s failure to give even a verbal warning, PP would not have been injured. We can also say actual causation is met because but for tripping over the guy wire, PP wouldn’t have been injured. Proximate causation is met because its foreseeable that not complying with SRS 44-44 would cause someone to trip and get hurt. Injury is met because PP suffered a shattered kneecap.

LL might have a contributory negligence defense. Because PP volunteered to go on stage, and was not required to, it can be established that his own actions contributed to his own injury. But this defense may fail because contributory negligence is not available against very young plaintiffs, and that may apply to the nine-year-old PP.

3. Discuss prospects for liability of Couperez Chainsaws to Don Douglas for strict products liability.

[After having done a nice job of going through the elements and doing good analysis for strict products liability …] There are two additional ways in which DD could prove products liability—negligence and breach of warranty. But the best option for DD is to use strict products liability because the other claims are harder to prove under these facts.

4. Discuss prospects for liability of Couperez Chainsaws to Amelia Ashworth for strict products liability for her broken toe. Please do not repeat analysis from the preceding question.

CC will not be liable to AA for strict products liability because AA’s injuries did not result from the product defect.

In this situation, CC will not be liable for strict products liability because the product defect did not harm AA, since the manufacturer should not have known that an F-16 could startle Amelia, causing her to drop the chainsaw as she was inspecting it.

Actual causation is not satisfied in this case because but for the two espressos AA had, she wouldn’t have been jumpy and wouldn’t have dropped the saw.

5. Discuss prospects for liability of Hexetron Hospital Supplies Corp. and Intravenous Innovations, Inc. to Payne Pinyon for negligence. Remember, do not discuss other causes of action.

Actual causation is satisfied in this case against both HH and II under Summers v. Tice doctrine, because even though there’s only a 50% chance that either one actually caused the injury, the burden shifts to both defendants to each disprove causation.