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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

Scott v. County of Los Angeles

Headnote

The plaintiff was a four-year-old child whose parents were both incarcerated. The plaintiff was put under the care of her grandmother, under the supervision of county workers. County workers failed to perform their mandatory supervisory duties and did not thoroughly investigate several reports on the grandmother's abuse of the plaintiff. The grandmother's abuse peaked in one episode, where she forcefully immersed the plaintiff's legs in scalding hot water for 30 seconds. The plaintiff suffered burn damage from the skin to the bone, nearly fatal infections of the legs, and permanent disfigurement and disability. The jury returned a verdict assigning 1% of the liability for the injuries to plaintiff's grandmother, and 99% of the liability to the county and its employee. How should courts apportion liability between entities that enable the plaintiff's harm through negligence (in this case, the county) and individuals that intentionally cause the harm (in this case, the grandmother)?