MBE Question: Tiger King-Themed
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A woman visited a tiger rescue zoo with her family. While she was there, she tripped over a tiger’s tail and injured her arm.
Who should the woman sue and what is her best theory of liability?
(A) The owner of the zoo, for negligence.
(B) The owner of the zoo, for strict liability.
(C) The owner of the zoo, since a tiger zoo is considered an abnormally dangerous activity.
(D) Carole Baskin.
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(A) is the correct answer. The woman would be considered an invitee because she was on the property to confer an economic benefit or was entering land open to the public at large (a zoo). A premises possessor owes the following duty of care to an invitee: to warn of or make safe all dangers that it knows or should know of. This also requires the premises possessor to make reasonable inspections.
Thus, the woman’s best theory of liability would be that the premises possessor (here, the owner of the zoo) did not make reasonable inspections of the land and thus, failed to adequately warn her of the tiger’s tail or make the premises safe.
(B) is incorrect. Ordinarily, strict liability is imposed when a plaintiff is injured by a wild animal. A tiger is a wild animal. However, strict liability only applies to an injury caused by a wild animal if the injury is the foreseeable result of having a wild animal. If the tiger bit the woman’s arm off, for example, she would have a good claim under a theory of strict liability. In this case, tripping over a tiger’s tail is not the harm the law seeks to avoid. Thus, strict liability would not be the woman’s best theory of liability.
(C) is incorrect. Even if keeping a tiger zoo is considered an abnormally dangerous activity (because it arguably creates a foreseeable risk of serious harm even when reasonable care is exercised and it is not a matter of common usage in the community), the harm that occurred in this case was not the harm that the law was seeking to avoid, as answer choice (B) explains.
(D) is incorrect. Even though Joe Exotic likes to blame Carole Baskin for everything, it would not necessarily be her fault ;)
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