COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE

“Thanks for coming to our house,” I say.

“You’re welcome,” you reply, as you sit on the couch next to Marlin, who has a bandaged paw from her encounter with an attractive nuisance on our last ski trip.  She emits a low growl as your sitting on the couch causes her to bounce a little.

“You might not want to sit so close to her,” I say, and you move over to the chair next to the couch.  Boris jumps onto the arm of the chair and stares at you, menacingly.  He has several singed whiskers from the same misadventure.

“That’s Boris’ chair,” I say, “but don’t worry.  Just keep your hands in your lap,” I caution.

You, unfortunately, don’t heed my warning and attempt to pet Borris, saying, “Nice kitty.”

“Ouch!” you yell.  “Your cat scratched me.  I could sue you,” you say.

“You could,” I reply, “but you would lose.”

“Why is that?” you ask, nursing your wound.

“Because you were negligent in failing to heed my warning, and when we compare your negligence in attempting to pet an injured cat with my negligence in allowing you to sit next to an injured cat, your negligence is a greater contributing cause of your injury than mine,” I opine.

“Really,” you say.  “You mean that your cats can claw me, and I’m at fault?” you remark, incredulously, as you get up to leave.

“Where are you going?” I ask.  “I wanted to discuss a legal principle with you.”

“I’ve had enough of a legal education for one day,” you say, as you glance backward, prior to slamming the door.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include real estate and business law, estate planning and elder law.