In Lynch v. Fisher, Thomson would never endorse strict liability. In the truck driver’s defense, the operation of the truck was faulty and made him suddenly stop on the side of the road in a presumably dangerous area. And in Gunter’s defense, he was unlucky the truck was parked the way it was, and unlucky once more when his disoriented state caused him to accidently shoot the plaintiff in the ankle. It is already proven that the mental state of Gunter has pardoned him from the damages of the plaintiff.
Coincidentally, the same pardoning could be given to the truck driver. That is, the malfunction of his vehicle made him panic and park in an unknowingly unsafe spot on the road. However, this is not to say no one is liable for the damages done to the plaintiff. Clearly, both the truck driver and Mr. Gunter should be liable although the intent or the foreseeability of their actions could have never been administered. Thomson is the first to recognize that accidents shouldn’t dismiss the liability of the parties that created the accident.
As a result, she believes that whether or not the truck driver or Gunter is found as the cause of Lynch’s injury doesn’t really extend to the fact that both are liable for the damages. In effect, this is the ‘decline of cause’ in law. Moreover, Thomson’s argument against sole liability is be fortified by the fact of each man’s negligence. The truck driver’s negligent parking and Gunter’s negligent driving make them equally negligent and thus, equally liable. This is the case of the man not looking while backing out of his driveway.
In the first scenario he doesn’t hit a kid but in the second he does. Shame on him for not looking the second time! However, Thomson says, “The moral sophisticate may concede that the law does well to mark a difference between [each scenario]” (Thomson 579), but that, in essence, each act of negligence is equally wrong. Therefore, to blame the negligent truck driver for the series of events leading to the injury or to blame Gunter’s negligence for crashing then shooting the plaintiff is also wrong.
As a result, Thomson, in her claim of the ‘decline of cause’ in moral theory, says both defendants are equally liable. These views of causality make a wide range for debate. On one side, Hart and Honore say that all actions previous to the consequences can’t be equally identified as the proximate causes, but that there are necessary conditions in which the consequences occur. On the other side, Thomson claims the need for causality is, in effect, declining because of the difficulty in determining who or what is the proximate cause.
I think both philosophies give rise to a greater outcome that can be applied to the case of Lynch v. Fisher. In this case, the truck driver’s initial action of parking the truck was inarguably negligent due to the facts that the truck obstructed a portion of the right-hand side of the road and it had no tail lights nor any other sign to warn following traffic. But can we deem this the proximate cause? Was it reasonably foreseeable to attribute all of the following consequences to the truck driver’s negligence or that there was no intervening cause to supersede the initial cause?
In effect, this is the incident of the defendant, Robert Gunter. “The plaintiff properly alleged that the defendant Gunter was mentally deranged and rendered temporarily insane as the result of the collision… ” (Adams 562). That being said, since the truck driver made no effort to warn following traffic or pull further off the side of the road there must be some liability at stake. Likewise, this is the case for Mr. Gunter. Since he made no attempt to avoid the collision he is liable for whatever consequence he directly or indirectly has caused thereafter.
However, the entire case is brought to life by the fact that the plaintiff was shot in the ankle by a delirious and mentally deranged Mr. Gunter. This, in fact, should dismiss Mr. Gunter because, “The plaintiff properly alleged that the defendant Gunter was mentally deranged and rendered temporarily insane as the result of the collision… ” (Adams 562). Thus, the damages the plaintiff sustained ought to be compensated by whoever is more liable in the entire spectrum of the incident.
This can be administered at the truck driver’s expense. The truck driver was proven to have parked negligently in a spot that was foreseeably a hazard and possibly illegal that resulted in one death and nearly two others. Although Gunter shot the plaintiff, it is clear that the negligence of the truck driver overrides his act of negligence. That is not to say any issuance of causation has been set forth upon the truck driver, but instead, a contract of liability was put in motion the moment he departed from the parked truck.
Adams, David. Philosophical Problems in the Law. 4th ed. Pomona, CA: Wadsworth, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. , 2005. Print. From H. L. A. hart and A. M. Honore, Causation in the Law, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), pp. 68-83. Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. From Judith Jarvis Thomson, “The Decline of Cause,” The Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 76 (1987), pp. 137-150. Reprinted by permission of the Georgetown Law Journal Association.