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Who is Responsible? / Кто виноват?
Read Кто виноват? You are a member of a California jury trying to decide the result of a civil suit brought by Ms. Melissa Brown. These are the basic facts: On the night of December 31, Ms. Brown, a 29-year-old third-year medical student, was returning home from a New Year’s Eve party.
At approximately 12:45 am, her Ford Pinto was hit from the rear by a Cadillac Seville driven by Mr. James Jones, a 56-year-old millionaire vice-president of a local architectural firm.
According to the testimony at the trial, Mr. Jones’ car was traveling 15 miles over the speed limit when it went out of control and hit Ms. Brown’s car on an icy, poorly lit street. The resulting collision caused the Pinto to crumple and its gas tank caught fire.
Ms. Brown suffered third-degree bums over the top half of her body, completely disfiguring her face and paralyzing her from the neck down. Doctors say she will probably never be able to move that part of her body again unless she receives extensive medical help. For these reasons, and others below, Ms. Brown filed the largest civil suit in U.S. history — $25 million — against the parties named below.
The trial has lasted three weeks. Now you must decide how much money, if any, to award.

Consider
1. The trial evidence established that Ms. Brown had an excellent driving record (no convictions of any type), and was driving completely within the law at the time of the accident.
2. The trial record also established that Mr. Jones was legally drunk at the time of the accident (according to a sobriety test). It was the second time he had been involved in an accident while driving under the influence (in the previous accident, no one was injured).
Decide and Write Ms. Brown has sued the following:

1. Mr. Janies Jones. Mr. Jones’ drunkenness undoubtedly led him to exceed the speed limit and affected his ability to react to treacherous street conditions. As a result of the accident, he was found guilty in criminal court of "negligent contribution to an accident" and given a one-year suspended sentence.

Amount of money Mr. Jones must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

2. The Disco Bar. According to California law, the owner of a bar can be held legally responsible for allowing a drunk patron to leave the premises. Mr. Jones had been drinking at the Disco Bar for four hours prior to the accident. Testimony revealed that the manager of the bar knew Mr. Jones was drunk and did nothing.

Amount of money the Disco Bar must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

3. The City of Los Angeles, Maintenance Department. At the time of the accident, though unusual, snow had been falling for six hours. According to testimony, the Department had made no attempt either to clear the streets or to post warning signs.

Amount the Department must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

4. The City of Los Angeles, Lighting Department. The Department had never provided adequate lighting in the area despite previous promises to do so. In the area where Ms. Brown’s accident occurred, the city’s average accident rate is exceeded by more than 15 percent.

Amount the Department must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

5. The Ford Motor Co. Tests of all models of the Ford Pinto revealed a critical deficiency in the structural design that made it easier for the gas tank to rupture on contact. Ford allegedly knew of the defect, yet did nothing. Over 500 similar accidents have been reported nationwide.

Amount Ford must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

6. The Harper Aluminum Co. According to strict regulations, the bumpers of cars must be built to withstand an impact at 35 miles per hour (mph) without crumpling. Mr. Jones was going approximately 35 mph in a 20 mph zone when the accident occurred. Nonetheless, the rear bumper of the Pinto crumpled immediately, allowing the gas tank to be exposed.

Amount Harper must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

7. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), Washington D.C. This Department has the legal responsibility to verify that all car models are free from structural defects. Apparently, inspectors were negligent in checking the Pinto bumper and gas tank.

Amount HEW must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________

8. The State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles, Inspection Division. This Division is authorized by the State to retest for structural defects any and every vehicle that is sold in the State. This was not done in the case of the Ford Pinto because of administrative error.

Amount the State of California must pay Ms. Brown:
______________________________
Reason:
______________________________
Extend 1. Many states are now passing laws that limit the amount of money a victim can receive for injuries. Do you believe that such awards should be limited?

2. Should a bar owner be legally responsible if a person gets drunk at his or her bar, drives away in a car, and kills someone in a traffic accident?

3. Imagine either that you are handicapped and confined to a wheelchair or that you are not handicapped or confined. Write a composition about life from your chosen point of view.
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