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    Ludmila Hresil and her niece were shopping at a Sears retail store

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    Ludmila Hresil and her niece were shopping at a Sears retail store. There were few shoppers in the store at the time. Hresil spent about ten minutes in the store's women's department, where she observed no other shoppers. After Hresil's niece completed a purchase in another part of the store, the two women began to walk through the women's department.

    Hresil, who was pushing a shopping cart, suddenly lost her balance and struggled to avoid a fall. As she did so, her right leg struck the shopping cart and began to swell. Hresil observed a gob on the floor where she had slipped. Later, a Sears employee said that it looked like someone spat on the floor, like it was phlegm. Under the reasonable person standard, did Sears breach a duty to Hresil by not cleaning up the gob? Hint: Assume that Hresil could prove that the gob was on the floor only for the ten minutes she spent in the women's department.

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    Solution Preview

    The reasonable man or reasonable person standard is a legal fiction that originated in the development of the common law. The reasonable person is a hypothetical individual whose view of things is consulted in the process of making decisions of law. The question, "How would a reasonable person act under the circumstances" performs a critical role in legal reasoning in areas such as negligence and contract law.

    Rationale behind the standard
    The rationale for such a standard is that the law will benefit the general public when it serves its reasonable members, and thus a reasonable application of the law is sought, compatible with planning, working, or getting along with others. The reasonable person is not the average person: this is not a democratic measure. To predict the appropriate sense of responsibility and other standards of the reasonable man, 'what is reasonable' has to be appropriate to the issue. What the 'average person' thinks or might do is irrelevant to a case concerning medicine, for example. But the reasonable person is appropriately informed, capable, aware of the law, and fair-minded. Such a person might do something ...

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