Whether Sophie can file a suit of negligence against Michael to hold him liable for his actions?
Based on the principles of negligence, a person can be held liable to pay compensation for his/her negligent actions. The law provides that if an individual breaches his/her duty of care which caused an injury to another party can be held liable for negligence. In Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) AC 562 case, the court provided a judgement based on the principle of negligence. In this case, the claimant ordered a drink in a café; due to the negligence of the café owner, the drink contained the remains of a dead snail. Due to drinking the remains of the dead snail, the claimant became ill and suffered a personal injury. A suit for negligence filed against the café owner. The court provided that the defendant is liable to pay damages under the tort of negligence because the duty was violated by him to maintain a standard of care which he owed towards the customers (Barker et al., 2012). The court also established key elements which are necessary to be present while filing a suit for negligence. The first element is that the party must have a legal duty to care. Without a duty of care, the suit for negligence cannot be filed.
To determine whether to hold a person guilty in negligence suit, the court uses ‘Caparo test’ which was established in the case of Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman (1990) 2 AC 605. The court provided that the parties must have a proximity relationship based on which parties has to ensure a standard of care. The second element is that the duty must be breached by the party against whom the suit for negligence is filed. The objective test is used by the court to assess whether appropriate care is not taken by the party which was established in Vaughan v Menlove (1837) 3 Bing N.C. 467 case. The test evaluates whether the person had taken the appropriate standard of care which is expected of him in the particular situation (Stickley, 2016). Another element is that the damages suffered by the party must be caused directly due to the actions of the defendant. In Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital (1969) 1 QB 428 case, the court established the ‘but for’ test. The test is used for identifying whether the injuries were direct result of the breach of duty of care. For example, the plaintiff would not have suffered serious injury, but for the breach of duty by the defendant, he/she suffered substantial loss. Lastly, damages must not be too remote because a claim cannot be filed for damages which are unforeseeable as given in The Wagon Mound no 1 (1961) AC 388 case (Hodgson, 2016).
In the given case study, Michael has a duty to ensure a standard of care towards its customers to ensure that a standard of care is maintained by him while preparing the food (Donoghue v Stevenson). There was proximity in the relationship of customers who ordered at the restaurant, thus, Michael owes a duty of care towards Sophie (Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman). Michael breached such duty because he used the raw fish without checking its quality even when he knew that the dish must be prepared very carefully (Vaughan v Menlove). The food poisoning suffered by Sophie was caused directly due to the failure of Michael to maintain a standard of care (Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital). The damages were not too remote since Michael knew that this dish has to prepare very carefully (The Wagon Mound no 1).
In conclusion, Sophie can sue Michael in the tort of negligence because he failed to maintain a standard of care which was expected of him due to which Sophie suffered a personal injury.
Barker, K., Cane, P., Lunney, M. and Trindade, F. (2012) The law of torts in Australia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital (1969) 1 QB 428
Caparo Industries PLC v Dickman (1990) 2 AC 605
Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) AC 562
Hodgson, D. (2016) The law of intervening causation. Abingdon: Routledge.
Stickley, A.P. (2016) Australian torts law. New York: LexisNexis Butterworths.
The Wagon Mound no 1 (1961) AC 388
Vaughan v Menlove (1837) 3 Bing N.C. 467