Does the grocery store have a duty to secure its buggies?

Early on law students are exposed to the concept of “reasonably foreseeable.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out in a case recently filed in Orleans Parish by a woman who was in an automobile accident she alleges was caused by a stray shopping cart. The plaintiff contends that the grocery store failed to make appropriate security measures which resulted in the basket rolling off the parking lot and onto the highway where she was driving. Doubtless, the issue will arise whether Winn-Dixie knew or should have known that its baskets were a substantial factor in causing an unreasonable risk of harm. In this case, whether it should have known the basket could ultimately end up in the highway, and whether it could have prevented the accident had it exercised reasonable care.

Whether or not Winn-Dixie has such a duty is not an ironclad rule. Although, theoretically our civil law system has a code which we rely upon in instances of tortious infractions, the outcome will be heavily fact intensive. What measures were taken to avoid the situation, by both the plaintiff and the defendant? Did Winn-Dixie have actual knowledge that its baskets were exiting the property (either intentionally or negligently)? The answer will have to be decided by a judge summarily, or perhaps even by twelve jurors. The result is guaranteed to be interesting.

DnD

Sometimes it’s the little things

If this blog has any readers, then it should be evident that I’m big on handing out example forms. I will admit, the previous forms have been more complex and absolutely do not substitute actual legal advice; however sometimes its the simpler things that matter. A colleague asked me for a sample motion to reset the other day. So, if you’re new to the practice or just curious, here is an example form of a motion to reset.

Unprotected Speech: A Footnote to the First Amendment

Although the First Amendment preserves several rights, the one of import for this post is the freedom of speech (FoS). The FoS is one of the prized rights retained by the people, and there is a heavy burden on government action that infringes on this right. There are many tests and legal presumptions (also could be the subject of another blog), but ultimately not all speech is treated equally. Basically, there is protected and unprotected speech. The classic example of unprotected speech is the person who yells “fire” in a crowded movie theater, when there is in actuality no fire at all.

So, here is a laundry list of the various forms of unprotected speech: speech that 1) creates a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action; 2) constitutes “fighting words” as defined by a narrow, precise statute; 3) obscenity (speech, film, etc.); 4) if it constitutes defamation; 5) or violates regulations against false or deceptive advertising.

This is a very basic summary of the exceptions to the First Amendment. There is a plethora of case law on what the court defines as clear and present danger. You will also notice that “fighting words” depends on a “defined, narrow, precise statute.” In summary, while Americans enjoy freedom of speech remember that it can be curbed within reason.