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Professor DeWolf Torts I Fall 1995 July 28 2002 MINI EXAM SAMPLE ANSWER This case is based upon Williams v Amoco Production Co 734 P 2d 1113 Kan 1987 In that case the court found that drilling and operation of natural gas wells was not an abnormally dangerous activity and that the farmers could not recover from the gas company on a nuisance theory I would tell the Williamses Ws that they should consider an action against MajorOil based upon several theories Nothing in the facts reveals any claim against Weber but we should perhaps investigate further Action Against MajorOil The first thing we would have to prove in our case against MajorOil is that it breached a duty owed to the Williamses A breach of duty could be predicated either upon negligence or upon a strict liability theory 1 Negligence Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care Reasonable care is what a reasonably prudent person would do under the same or similar circumstances One way to measure reasonable care is to find out what is customary in the industry It may be that in the process of drilling or maintaining the gas well some customary precaution was omitted that would have prevented the leakage of natural gas into the Ws water well That would be good evidence of negligence On the other hand even if MajorOil complied with all of the customary procedures we could still argue that some additional precaution would be worthwhile based upon an analysis of the cost benefit ratio Experts are often willing to testify concerning their belief that a reasonable person would have used greater caution Another technique to prove negligence is res ipsa loquitur the thing speaks for itself That doctrine applies where the happening of the accident itself suggests negligence To apply that doctrine we would have to show that this is the type of injury that doesn t normally occur in the absence of negligence that might be difficult here plus we would have to show that the gas well was under the defendants easy to

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