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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

Vaughan v. Menlove

Headnote

How does the reasonable person standard account for variations in human intelligence? Plaintiff’s property caught on fire due to the spontaneous combustion of hay stacked by the defendant nearby. The facts showed that plaintiff had explicitly warned defendant of the risk of fire; defendant responded by saying that “he would chance it.” Defendant insisted, throughout trial, that his stack did not carry a risk of igniting. However, the potential for hay stacks to spontaneously combust may have been common knowledge at the time.