Post Hoc Ergo, Propter Hoc
"After this, therefore because of this"
Could it be a case of negligence?
Old Man Jenkins is a 73-year-old widower who lives alone in a small cabin about seven miles out of town. He is bald, toothless, and wears bifocals, but he’s in fine shape. He enjoys working on cars, fishing, mows his lawn with the old fashioned type, and every day he rides his bicycle two miles down Purple Lane to the pond where he eats his homemade lunch.
The sun was out, with a slight breeze and it was time for lunch. Old Man Jenkins made his usual Tuesday lunch. After making his ham and cheese with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a rye he put it in the lunch sack, moved the still warm homemade French fries from the skillet into a sandwich bag, adding it with and two Dill pickles, and topped it off with a cold root beer from the refrigerator. He smiled as he removed his coveralls, placing them with his blue jean shorts and T-shirt. He then sat down to put on his shiny white tennis shoes, and as he finished tying the last shoe, he said to himself with wide grin, “The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, I just know that something unusual is going to happen.” Yes, today is going to be a day he’ll never forget.
Cynthia and Frank Mudd live about a half mile down from Old Man Jenkins where they raise bees and sell the honey to the local grocery store in town. The Mudds also have a large garden in their back yard where they grow a variety of vegetables which they also sell.
On this particular day, the Mudds decided to check on the bee cages to make sure everything was up to par before they went to gather the vegetables that should be ripe enough to sell. Frank leaned his hoe against a tree as he inspected each bee cage, and on the last one, he noticed that the top needed to be repaired. Yet, he chose to fix it tomorrow because they needed to harvest the vegetables and get them to town before the store closed.
Then it happened. As Frank finished with his inspection Old Man Jenkins was tooling down Purple Lane whistling Dixie as he neared the bee cages not more than five feet away. Cynthia waved a hello to Old Man Jenkins as she saw him approaching, and at that same time Frank turned from the bees and, forgetting that the hoe was there, stepped on the blade and in turn was hit in the head. Frank tumbled back onto the bee cage he had last inspected, knocking it over and causing the top to come off. It was at this very moment Old Man Jenkins is cruising by, his whistling abruptly stopped as the smile of glee was replaced with a frantic look of horror as he saw the hundreds of bees coming after him. Old Man Jenkins is allergic to bees. He was stung over 100 times and was immediately transported to the hospital by helicopter and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
Old Man Jenkins filed a lawsuit against Cynthia and Frank, claiming to be a case of negligence. Frank and Cynthia say that honey bees do not attack unless they are provoked. They argue that Old Man Jenkins was riding too close to the cages and too fast, causing a torrent of wind that startled the bees. The Mudds counter sued claiming that Old Man Jenkins cost them for the loss of hundreds of bees.
Is Old Man Jenkins correct, was it a case of negligence?