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University of Toronto Tort Law Case Study


TORT ESSAY – Sample case

An information technology firm assigned to one of its junior employee engineers the task of developing

special software for application on major bridge designs. The employee engineer had recently become a

professional engineer and was chosen for the task because of the engineer’s background in both the

construction and the “software engineering” industries. The firm’s bridge software package was

purchased and used by a structural engineering design firm on a major bridge design project, on which it

had been engaged by contract with a municipal government. Unfortunately, the bridge collapsed in less

than one year after completion of construction. Motorists were killed and injured. The resulting

investigation into the cause of the collapse concluded that the design of the bridge was defective and

the software implemented as part of the design did not address all of the parameters involved in the

scope of this particular bridge design. The investigators concluded that although the design software

would suffice for certain types of structures, it was not appropriate in the circumstances of the

particular subsurface conditions and length of the span required for this particular application. The

investigators’ report also indicated that the design software package was not sufficiently explicit in

warning users of the software of the scope of the design parameters addressed by the software. The

investigators’ report also stated that even an experienced user of the software might reasonably assume

that the software would be appropriate for the application on this particular project.


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