Miller v. Warren
182 W.Va 560, 390 S.E.2d 207 (1990)

  • The Millers were staying in Warren’s motel when there was a fire. They were injured. They sued for negligence.
    • The Millers argued that were no smoke alarms which could have alerted them to the fire.
    • Miller argued that the local fire code did not require smoke alarms. Therefore, since he complied with the law, he couldn’t be held negligent.
  • The Appellate Court found for the Millers.
    • The Appellate Court found that, while failure to comply with a regulation is evidence of negligence, compliance with a regulation is evidence of due care, but not conclusive evidence of due care.
    • The Court found that if Warren knew that there was a risk of fire, and a reasonable person would have installed smoke alarms, then Warren can be found negligent even though he met the requirements of the regulation.
  • Basically, this case said that he standard for negligence is different from the standard for legal culpability, and just because you are complying with the law, that not proof that you aren’t acting negligently.
    • Conversely, just because you have broken a law, that doesn’t automatically mean that you are negligent.
      • See Impson v. Structural Metals, Inc. (487 S.W.2d 694 (Tex. 1972)).
    • Even though it isn’t conclusive, complying with a law is evidence that you weren’t negligent, and violating a law is evidence that you were negligent. So the jury can consider it as a factor in determining negligence.