Nielsen v Bell

Nielsen sued Bell arguing Bell’s four year old son had negligently thrown a rubber dolphin at Nielsen’s face causing blindness in one of Nielsen’s eyes. The district court denied Bell’s motion for summary judgment ruling a four year old can be negligent. The Court, 4-1, reversed. The majority first held that no Utah case has adopted the Illinois rule of presumptions about when children are presumed capable of negligence and the issue had thus not been decided on that basis. It held that five appears to be the cutoff for negligence in Utah case law and this is consistent with the restatement rule and such a rule is reasonable given the lack of capacity of very young children to properly assess risk and be deterred form committing harm by tort rules. The majority noted that as with any age base line drawing there may be individual cases of injustice, but, held that society as a whole is best served through a clear bright line rule. The case was remanded with instructions to grant summary judgment with the four year old defendant. Justice Lee dissented arguing that the Utah case relied upon by the majority actually diet only whit the circumstances of that case not whether four year old minors are capable of negligence. He argued that cognitive science should guide law as to when tort liability should attach, argued three is the current age when some children are capable of the type of thinking which makes liability reasonable and so would hold children under three incapable of negligence, would apply a presumption of no negligence form 3 to 7 with rebuttal allowed by expert testimony and hold form 8 up negligence capable based on children of similar age, experience and capacity. He also argued that the new rule will allow more recovery by young plaintiffs as their culpability is now eliminated as a matter of law.

Salt lake City Corporation v Evans Development group, LLC

Evans appealed the judgment affirming the condemnation of certain property which City planned to transfer to a third party interchange for different property of the third party to facilitate a railway relocation project. The Court reversed. It held the condemnation violated eminent domain statues in at least three ways as City will not be in charge of the proposed power station yet is listed as the condemnor; City will not commence and complete the station as required; and Evans would have no remedy if the station is not completed as the third party, not City as required, will own the property. The case was remanded to return the property to Evans and to resolve issues of damages and attorney fees.