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An architect is visiting a construction site in State X, where the architect’s latest building is being erected. A dirt road runs around the site’s perimeter. Trucks and other construction vehicles constantly travel along the road. When the architect enters the site, a supervisor hands the architect a hard hat, and tells the architect to wear the hat for safety at all times while on the site. The supervisor also warns the architect to stay off the perimeter road to avoid being struck by a vehicle.
The architect puts on the hard hat and walks around the site. It is a warm day, and eventually the architect removes the hard hat to cool off. The architect then pauses to look at something high on the building being constructed. To get a better view, the architect walks backward onto the perimeter road while still gazing upward. The architect remains standing in the road for 30 seconds without putting the hard hat back on. A truck then comes along the road and strikes the architect.
As the architect falls to the ground, the architect’s head strikes the corner of a large steel tool chest. The impact opens a deep cut along the architect’s scalp and face, leaving a permanent scar. The impact also causes permanent brain damage, resulting in memory loss and cognitive impairment.
The law of State X recognizes respondeat superior as a basis for tort liability. The architect therefore sues the construction company in tort to recover for the truck driver’s negligence.
The evidence at trial shows that just before the impact, the truck driver looked away from the road to change the station on the truck’s radio. If the driver had been watching the road, then the driver would have had enough time to avoid hitting the architect. The evidence also shows that if the architect had been wearing the hard hat at the time of impact, the architect would not have suffered any permanent injury.
The law of State X follows the rule of contributory negligence and the doctrine of last clear chance.
Assume that the truck driver was negligent. Assume further that the architect was negligent for failing to wear the hard hat, and that the architect was negligent for standing in the road.