Sutton v. Jondahl

532 P.2d 478 (1975)

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Sutton v. Jondahl

Oklahoma Court of Appeals
532 P.2d 478 (1975)

  • Written by Sheryl McGrath, JD

Facts

John Jondahl (defendant) gave his 10-year-old son a chemistry set as a Christmas gift in 1968. At the time, Jondahl and his family were renting a house from the Suttons (plaintiffs). About a year later, while Jondahl’s family was still renting the house, Jondahl’s son tried to experiment in his bedroom by heating some chemicals from the set using an electric popcorn popper. During this experiment, a fire ignited and caused damage to the house. The Suttons submitted a claim to their fire insurance company, Central Mutual Insurance Co. (Central Mutual) (plaintiff). Central Mutual paid the Suttons’ claim, and then Central Mutual sued Jondahl and his son in a subrogation action. The trial court instructed the jury that Jondahl and his son had to prove lack of negligence and that if Jondahl or his son failed to fulfill this proof requirement, then the jury must render a verdict for Central Mutual. In other words, the trial court’s instruction placed the burden on Jondahl and his son to prove that they were without fault. The jury found Jondahl (but not his son) liable to Central Mutual. Jondahl appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brightmire, J.)

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