While driving late at night on a dark, two-lane road, a person confronts an oncoming bus speeding down the center line of the road in the opposite direction. In the glare of the headlights, the person sees that the vehicle is a bus, but he cannot otherwise identify it. He swerves to avoid a collision, and his car hits a tree. The bus speeds past without stopping. The injured person later sues the Blue Bus Company. He proves, in addition to the facts stated above, that the Blue Bus Company owns and operates 80% of the buses that run on the road where the accident occurred. Can he win?
I completely agree with arcturus, in a civil case this probabilistic evidence should be sufficient. This is probably more reliable than a judgment based on softer evidence which the jury is 51% convinced by
yes, i agree there's a clear difference between civil and criminal cases here. Plus, the showing that the Blue Bus company owns 80% of the buses is refutable - the company can still prove it wasn't one of their buses.
I agree with @Triangulum that there's still an opportunity for the Blue Bus Company to prove they weren't operating a bus on that road at the time of the crash or something. Letting the plaintiff win without hearing a rebuttal to that evidence would be hasty, despite the probabilities at play
I see the urge to say yes with Arcturus and Wolf based on the power imbalance between these specific parties, but I am inclined to say no on the hypothetical if parties are of equal privilege. There is no SPECIFIC evidence that the blue bus company was the one that hit even though it is generally an 80% chance is well over a preponderance. Lots and lots of other factors matter other than bus ownership, including routes, route times, training, length of shift. I dont think we want people to be sued because on just one dimension they have over 50% of the possibility to have committed teh wrong, it is a bad burden shifting exercise. I think it should be introduced in a larger fact pattern but not dispositive
Assuming there are no other variables and the blue bus company is on the roads at all time while making up 80% of the bus fleet, I'm still not happy with ruling for the plaintiff. This just seems like a windfall for the P. The company can't be liable for all accidents at night simply because they make up 80% of the fleet.
it feels like our avoidance of these probabilistic judgments is because we believe that if we were given something where we could actually exercise our judgment on, we could become sure (or something approximating sure). just seems like us overestimating our capabilities. i'd take an actual, provable 80% over a jury's subjective 51%
this hypo is based on a real case (Smith v. Rapid Transit) in Massachusetts and the court ruled for the bus company, stating that the probability the bus was owned by defendant did not meet preponderance oft he evidence standard. just food for thought