Foreseeability and Flying T-Shirts: Palsgraf Revisited

By Sharp, Linda A. | Sport Marketing Quarterly, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Foreseeability and Flying T-Shirts: Palsgraf Revisited


Sharp, Linda A., Sport Marketing Quarterly


The beauty of tort law is that it retains an inherent flexibility responsive to societal developments and new technologies. Whether we are dealing with a horsedrawn carriage run amuck or a modern-day marketing promotion using a t-shirt cannon, courts still address the essential and fundamental issues of duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. A recent New York case illustrates a court's reliance on long-established precedent as it decided the case of the flying t-shirts.

In the case of Curran v. CXR Holding, Inc. (2006), the plaintiffs were attending a July 4th fireworks celebration at Jones Beach, New York, in 1999. The plaintiffs were an 11-year-old girl and her grandmother, who were sitting on a blanket at the beach with six of the minor plaintiff's siblings. At the time, the grandmother was in charge of seven children; the oldest child was 14 and the youngest was a newborn infant in a stroller.

The defendant radio station, CXR Holding, Inc., d/b/a/ WBAM-FM, (hereinafter "CXR") began launching t-shirts into the audience as a part of a promotion. The facts are disputed as to whether the defendant used a bungee cord cannon-type device or whether the tshirts were simply thrown into the crowd. The plaintiffs were injured when "a large, rowdy male beachgoer descended upon the blanket in an attempt to grab a 'flying' t-shirt" (Curran, 2006, p. 2). The plaintiff minor suffered a fractured leg which required two surgeries and her grandmother had an injured shoulder requiring two surgeries including the implantation of a metal anchor. The plaintiffs sued the defendant alleging that their injuries were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the negligent actions of CXR. The defendant sought dismissal of the plaintiffs' complaint arguing that the proximate cause of the plaintiffs' injuries was the unforeseeable actions of the third party, the rowdy male beachgoer who fell upon the plaintiffs. The New York Supreme Court denied the summary judgment motion and the case will proceed to trial, assuming that the parties do not settle the matter.

In its order denying summary judgment, the court first addressed the question of whether the defendant, CXR, owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs. The question of duty is, of course, a matter of law to be decided by the court. The court noted that the duty is dependent upon the circumstances and the scope of the duty is defined by the risk of harm which is perceived. On this issue the court stated: "It is axiomatic that inducing young adults to run helter-skelter within a crowded beach to catch thrown or catapulted free t-shirts, creates a foreseeable risk of harm to uninvolved, thirdparty beachgoers, such as the plaintiffs herein"(Curran, 2006, p. 3).

In this situation, the court held that the permission to stage the event, which was given to the defendant radio station, obligated the defendant to ensure that reasonable, common sense safeguards were used. This would encompass, in the court's view, security and warnings and not allowing the t-shirts to be randomly distributed without regard for the safety of those on the beach.

The court noted that the defendants provided no security nor did it post any safety warnings or give any oral warnings. It was not reasonable for defendant to expect the plaintiff grandmother to relocate seven children and all their belongings. In fact, the courts stated that: "It could hardly be expected for Mrs. Tacchi [the grandmother] to attempt to walk the seven children through a gauntlet of frenzied rowdies" (Curran, 2006, p.3). Further, the court characterized the plaintiffs and other children as captives in the circumstance.

On the proximate cause argument the court was adamant that because the "operation, control, design and calculation of the geographical radius of this event was solely within the discretion of the defendant" (Curran, 2006, p.3), it was not appropriate for the defendant to argue that the injuries were solely caused by the actions of the rowdy beachgoer. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Foreseeability and Flying T-Shirts: Palsgraf Revisited
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.