Mathis v. Massachusetts Electric Co.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
565 N.E.2d 1180 (1991)
The Mathis family’s home had a utility pole in its front yard. The utility pole had various wires attached to it for telephone, cable television, and electricity. Brian Mathis (plaintiff) was 16 years old. With some friends watching, Mathis scaled the utility pole. When he reached the top of the pole, he was shocked by an electrical charge and fell to the ground. He was seriously injured. Mathis sued the owners of the utility pole, Massachusetts Electric Company (MEC) (defendant) and New England Telephone and Telegraph Company (NET) (defendant), for negligence and for violating the state’s child trespasser statute. A jury found that NET was not negligent, but that MEC had violated its duty of reasonable care toward foreseeable child trespassers. Additionally, the jury held that Mathis was comparatively negligent, determining that he was 75 percent at fault and MEC was 25 percent at fault. Because Mathis was more than 50 percent negligent, under the state’s comparative negligence statute he could not recover any damages. Mathis appealed. Mathis moved for a new trial, and the trial court denied his motion. On appeal, he argued that Massachusetts’s child-trespasser statute imposes strict liability, and consequently is not subject to the defense of comparative negligence.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Liacos, C. J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 725,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 725,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 45,700 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.