Blackburn v. Dorta Case Brief

Summary of Blackburn v. Dorta, S. Ct. Florida, [1977]

Defenses – Plaintiff’s Conduct; Assumption of Risk-Implied

Relevant Facts: Several cases simultaneously brought under the consolidation action, involving “conflict certiorari jurisdiction."

Legal Issue(s): Whether the doctrine of assumption of risk is still viable as an absolute defense barring recovery subsequent to adoption of the rule of comparative negligence?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Consolidation of several cases. Ct. of Appeals (Hoffman) Contrib and assumpt merge. as one defense and shall apply to all cases where such defenses are asserted. Affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): A primary function of a court is to see that legal conflicts are equitably resolved.

Contributory neg and assumption merge and apply as one defense under the law.

Court Rationale: Assumption of risk is not a favored defense. Assumption of risk is interchangeable with contributory negligence and should be treated equally. Primary a of r = df was not negligent b/c he owed no duty to pl. Secondary a of r = establishes a breach of a duty owed by df to pl. Primary implied assumption of risk is subsumed into the principle of negligence itself. Since there is no readily distinguishable form between contributory neg and assumpt of risk there can be no separate affirmative defense. The only basis to maintain a distinction is where a pl exhibits unreasonable conduct.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The assumption of risk serves no purpose which is not subsumed by either the doctrine of contributory negligence or the common law concept of duty, and is a complete bar for recovery.

Defendant’s Argument: Contributory negligence is a separate defense and completely bars recovery by the pl.

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