Jensen v. White Star Lines (c) Anderson Kill & Olick 1998
Plaintiff's Brief on Negligence

 
 
 
 
ESTATE OF HANS PEDER JENSEN
by Executor of the Estate 
Carla Christine Jensen 

Plaintiff, 

v. 

THE WHITE STAR LINE, 

Defendant. 










)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
 
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
 
C.A. No. 12-041412
 
 
PLAINTIFF ESTATE OF HANS PEDER JENSEN
MEMORANDUM OF LAW
ON
NEGLIGENCE
 
 

 INTRODUCTION

  This Court should compensate Mr. Jensen's estate for:
 

  1. his death,
  2. the physical injuries and the pain and suffering he incurred as he froze to death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic,
  3. the emotional and anguish of knowing that he was going to die, and
  4. financial losses for wages he would have earned as a skilled carpenter.

  5.  
Not only did White Star's negligence kill and cut short the life of the twenty-one year-old Hans Peder Jensen, but The White Star Line caused the senseless death of 1,521 others.

 WHITE STAR WAS GROSSLY NEGLIGENT  IN ITS OPERATION OF THE RMS TITANIC

  As a result of White Star's careless operation of its ship, White Star's failure to heed warnings, and White Star's crash into an iceberg, White Star caused the death of over fifteen hundred men, women, and children, a disproportionate number of whom were third class passengers like Mr. Jensen.

 NEGLIGENCE
 

  The tort of negligence is:

  1. doing something that a person using ordinary care would not do, or
  2. not doing something that a person using ordinary care would do.  W. Page Keeton et al., Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts, §§ 28-31.
Ordinary care means the attention or skill that a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances.  In order to prove negligence we must prove four elements:
  1. that there is a duty of care owed to a person;
  2. a breach of that duty occurred;
  3. there is a reasonably close casual connection that causes injury (proximate cause); and
  4. that injury causes actual damage or loss.
 WHITE STAR LINES' DUTY TO ITS PASSENGERS

  The first element of negligence is that the defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to a plaintiff, or to a class of which the plaintiff is a member.  The White Star Line, as the owner and operator of the R.M.S. Titanic, clearly owed a duty of care to all of the passengers on its ship.  The passengers paid to sail aboard the most luxurious passenger liner that had every existed.  Each and every passenger relied upon the Defendant, The White Star Line, to safely take them to New York.  The White Star crew owed a duty of care to provide passengers with not only a room, food and heat, but most importantly a safe trip to their destination New York City.

 WHITE STAR LINES' BREACH OF DUTY OF CARE
 

  The second element of negligence requires that the defendant's breach of its duty by failing to conform to the required standard of care.  A breach of duty occurs if the Defendant's conduct creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others.  It is an objective test:  whether a reasonable person would have conducted himself as the defendant did. It is not a subjective test, which would mean you would have to ask whether the crew thought they were behaving reasonably. The White Star Line and its agents,  the crew of the Titanic, behaved in an unreasonable manner in many ways, all of which individually and collectively resulted in the most modern ship in the world, equipped a modern radio, hitting a large iceberg on a clear night in calm seas.

 CAUSATION OF FATAL INJURIES TO TITANIC'S PASSENGERS
 
The third element of negligence is that breach of duty is both the cause in fact and the legal or proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries by the defendant. The plaintiff can show that the breach of duty is the cause in fact if, but for defendant's conduct, the plaintiff would not have been harmed. To show causation a plaintiff also must prove that Defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of the harm alleged by the plaintiff.  Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Daniels, 70 S.E. 203 (Ga. 1911).  The Defendant can be liable only for the consequences of his negligence which were reasonably foreseeable at the time he acted.  Id. If the Defendant's breach of duty caused the Plaintiff's injury, but the Defendant could not foresee that such breach of duty would result in the type of injury that the Plaintiff suffered then there is cause in fact, but no proximate cause.  The crew certainly could have foreseen that operating a ship at night at a high rate of speed in iceberg infested waters could result in damage that would sink the ship and kill many passengers; and this was not the only cause of Mr. Jensen's death. There were many others.

 DAMAGES TO JENSEN'S ESTATE
 

  The final element of a cause of action for negligence is proof of actual damages from the defendant's negligence. Plaintiff's damages here include the emotional, physical, and financial loss suffered by Mr. Jensen's and to Miss Jensen, who as Mr. Jensen's sole heir will inherit the compensation to be paid to Mr. Jensen's.  We will show that Mr. Jensen suffered:

  1. the loss of his life,
  2. the loss of a lifetime of lost wages of an excellent carpenter
  3. the excruciating pain and suffering of freezing to death, and
  4. the mental anguish of knowing he would die and that he would never see his fiancé again.
  Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages to punish White Star for its wanton and reckless behavior of failing to properly operate and control the Titanic. 
 

 CONCLUSION
 

  For the foregoing reasons, the Court should instruct the jury on the elements of negligence as set forth above.
 
 

Dated:_________________
 

 

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