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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

IX. Res Ipsa Loquitur

Civil procedure concerns itself with what levels of proof and persuasion must be elicited from a plaintiff before a jury can hear a claim – and rule favorably on it. What happens when there isn’t sufficient evidence for a plaintiff to meet that burden, in part perhaps because the defendant’s behavior – the negligence itself, even – has made it difficult to gather such evidence? Res ipsa evolved before modern discovery rules to allow cases to get to juries where negligence by the defendant might be readily inferred. The cases in this section show the development of the doctrine and explore its rationales and limits.