Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Definition for the Month of May: Negligence

legal definitionEveryday I get hammered with certain words and/or topics.  Some days it's "foreclosure."  Other days it's Landlord Tenant (well, that's two words but it's still one concept so I'm counting it as one word).  Still other day's I get to deal with criminal issues like murder, arson, or underage philandering... Today's word of the day, however, is NEGLIGENCE.  It comes to us by way of the last guy who just stomped out of the library.  According to Black's Law Dictionary (9th Edition), negligence is defined as a person's failure to exercise the degree of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised in the same circumstance.

screaming yelling loud talking freak freaking For example, say you have a person come into your local county law library and start SCREAMING at the top of their lungs at the mild mannered (under paid) law librarian.  Now, we're not talking about talking loud - nope, we're talking about SCREAMING as in it leaves your ears ringing or screaming at your ex or mother-in-law (so that we're clear here, I'm not talking about my mother-in-law because my mother-in-law is pretty cool and has great legs, to boot....uh...not that I...uh...check(ed) out...um...her...um... legs...ah...or...anything...but...well,...uh...there it is!).
Anyway, a person of ordinary prudence would have come into the library and, in a whisper or in a not too loud of a voice, asked their question.  Nope, not this guy - he came in hotter than Texas asphalt in July looking for a fight and the best he could find was a law Librarian who was cool as a cucumber under fire (man, I was in fine form).  Ten minutes of stomping around screaming in general, he runs out of steam and storms out of the library - sans a fight.

Now, what I suspect was the case was that he was just blowing off steam having lost big time in family court and didn't actually intend for anyone's ears to ring.  That and the fact that "Intent" (which is a key component of tortious actions) is not an easy thing to prove.  That said, had he changed tactics and actually thrown a punch or spat in my face (which happens from time to time), today's word would have been BATTERY.  No, not that kind of battery.  A battery is a tort or civil wrongAccording to Black's Law Dictionary (9th Edition) a civil battery is an intentional and offensive touching of another without lawful justification; a criminal battery is defined as the use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact.  I suspect the difference between the two is who brings the legal action.  If I were to sue the slug to slugged me, it would be a civil battery (and I would be seeking monetary and compensatory damages).  If the district attorney were to pursue legal action, it would be criminal and he'd be seeking that the person sit in jail for a while and think about what he'd done - sort of like "time out" for adults.

So, I guess the moral to this story is - if you don't want to wind up being the focus of today's word of the day, yell outside the library and not at the librarian.  Thank you have you all have a great rest of the day!

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