Assoc. Les Droits des Non-Fumeurs v Sté Indiana Richelieu Drouot (2013) H&FLR 2015-31

Association Les Droits des Non-Fumeurs v Société Indiana Richelieu Drouot (2013) H&FLR 2015-31

Court of Cassation (France)

13 June 2013

Coram: Bizot P, Kriegk C and Maitre AG

Appearing for the Plaintiff: SCP Yves et Blaise Capron.
Appearing for the Defendant: SCP Celice, Blancpain & Soltner.

Catchwords: France – tobacco – non smoking area – public access – enclosed

Facts: The defendant operated “Café Indiana” at 18 Montmartre Boulevard, Paris.  The terrace of the cafe was found to be closed on its three main sides and to be only partly ventilated beneath its roof.

Article L.3511-7 of the French Code of Public Health forbids smoking in places given over to collective use.  Pursuant to Article 8 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, such places include enclosed and covered areas which are workplaces or which are intended to be accessed by the public.

The plaintiff brought proceedings against the defendant alleging a breach of Article L.3511-7 and claimed damages and an injunction.  The proceeding was dismissed by the trial court (Assoc. Les Droits des Non-Fumeurs v Sté Indiana Richelieu Drouot, Paris Tribunal de Grand Instance*, 14 September 2010, unreported).  The plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed (Assoc. Les Droits des Non-Fumeurs v Sté Indiana Richelieu Drouot, Paris Court of Appeal, 11 May 2012, unreported).  The plaintiff further appealed to the Court of Cassation.

Held: Allowing the appeal and remitting the matter to the Versailles Court of Appeal, that the cafe’s provision of only partial ventilation under its roof while being closed on its three main sides was inadequate to respond to the law’s requirements.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

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* Roughly, the Paris Superior Court.

French Republic v A Firefighter (2014) H&FLR 2015-11

French Republic v A Firefighter (2014) H&FLR 2015-11

Amiens Criminal Court

11 December 2014

Coram: Not identified.

Appearing for the Prosecution: Not identified.
Appearing for the Defendant: Not identified.

Catchwords: France – criminal law – emergency services – road accident – manslaughter – emergency

Facts: The accused was a firefighter with 33 years experience and, in particular, 10 years experience driving under emergency conditions.  On 6 October 2011 at around 10:00pm he was driving a tanker in a built-up area to the scene of a gas leak.  It was agreed that the driver had been complying with all applicable safety regulations when he passed through a red light with flashing lights and sirens activated.  Despite this, the truck collided with a scooter which entered the intersection pursuant to a green light.  The scooter driver was killed in the collision.  The driver was charged with “homicide involontaire” (≈ manslaughter).

The accused’s evidence was that he had slowed the truck, that he had not needed to speed as he had not yet been given the precise address of the gas leak, and that the scooter had entered the intersection at high speed.

Held: Convicting the driver, that the Court was not convinced that the gas leak was so urgent as to require driving under emergency conditions and disregarding the red light.

Judgment

No written judgment is available.  This report has been prepared based on accounts in the newspapers Le Figaro of 22 December 2014, Courrier Picard of 6 November 2014 and 21 December 2014, Libération of 22 December 2014, an undated report in Pompier Magazine, and the account of television channel France3 of 22 December 2014.

Note: the accused has announced his intention to appeal.

Comment: This case has obvious relevance from a fitness perspective, noting that the scooter driver could equally have been a runner, cyclist or equestrian.  It should be noted that the court’s rationale – that it was able to second-guess the driver’s assessment of the situation, that it had done so and found it wanting – has been deduced second-hand from a comment made on the case by the union representing firefighters.  That said, it is the only variable which would explain the driver’s conviction in light of the other evidence.

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X v French Republic (2007) H&FLR 2014-56

Dr Eric X v French Republic (2007) H&FLR 2014-56

Court of Cassation (France)

5 June 2007

Coram: Cotte P, Blondet and Farge (conseillers)

Appearing for the Appellant: Didier Le Prado and Jean-Jacques Gatineau
Appearing for the Respondent: Francis Fréchède (Public Prosecutor)

Catchwords: France – criminal law – doctor – surgery – obese patient – pulmonary embolism – death – manslaughter – compensation

Facts: The appellant was a surgeon specialising in plastic and reconstructive surgery.  On 13 January 2000 he performed an abdominoplasty on an obese 56 year old woman patient in order to remove excess skin and fatty tissue.  In the course of the surgery the patient developed a pulmonary embolism which caused her death.

It was found that the danger to the patient had been increased by the appellant’s decision not to delay the procedure pending the patient losing weight by following a dietary regime recommended by an endocrinologist; in the circumstances the surgery performed should have been considered only as a last resort.  It was further found that he had not drawn the attention of the attending anaesthetist to the risk of thromboembolisation and that he had also not drawn those dangers to the patient’s attention.

The defendant was convicted at first instance of homicide involontaire (≈ manslaughter).  The Court of Appeal at Versailles quashed the conviction but declared the defendant liable to pay compensation to the deceased’s heirs pursuant to article 470-1 of the Code du Procedure Pénale*.  The defendant appealed.

Held: Per curiam, dismissing the appeal –

1.  While the doctor’s responsibility relates to the choice of medical means and not to the ultimate result, this principle is displaced where it is established that there has been an error in the carrying out of those means.

2.  While a doctor is obliged to inform their patient of the risks of proposed treatment, the doctor is entitled to adduce a range of evidence (including presumptions) to demonstrate that they have fulfilled that obligation.  It was not open to the Court of Appeal to find that Dr X had failed to fulfil this obligation solely from the absence of a signature by the deceased.

3.  On the available evidence, the Court of Appeal was able to find that Dr X’s errors had directly contributed to the patient’s death and justified it ordering him to make recompense to her heirs.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

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* No copy of the decision can be located.

Vincent Petit v French Republic (2014) H&FLR 2014-34

Vincent Petit v French Republic (2014) H&FLR 2014-34

Administrative Court of Appeal at Nantes (France)

21 July 2014

Coram: Not identified.

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Ms Corinne Lepage (of Huglo Lepage Associés Conseil)
Appearing for the Defendant: Not identified

Catchwords: France – horse riding – algae – gas – death of horse – failure to prevent contamination – liability

Facts: On 28 July 2009 the plaintiff rode his horse onto a beach at Saint-Michel-en-Greve. The beach was contaminated by an outbreak of green algae which was giving off hydrogen sulfide gas as it decomposed. A sign had been placed at the entrance to the beach advising the public to avoid the algae and warning of a threat to health. The plaintiff’s horse became bogged in a mudflat and the prolonged exposure to the gas caused the plaintiff to lose consciousness and the horse to die.

The plaintiff brought proceedings for the loss of his horse against the French state on the basis that it had failed to take proper steps to prevent an outbreak of green algae. The proceeding was dismissed by the Administrative Tribunal at Rennes: Vincent Petit v French Republic (2012), Le Figaro, 29 June 2012. The plaintiff appealed.

Held: Allowing the appeal, that –

1.  The state was responsible for the outbreak of algae because it had not adequately implemented national or European rules on preventing contamination of waters through agricultural activities. Such contamination was accepted as the cause of algal blooms.

2.  The plaintiff had failed to take adequate care, inasmuch as he had taken his horse into a part of the beach particularly exposed to algae. As such, liability was apportioned two-thirds against plaintiff and one third against the defendant.

Judgment

A written judgment has not been released. This report has been compiled based on the Court’s communiqué and on the reports in Le Figaro of 5 August 2009, 29 June 2012 and 21 July 2014, Le Télégramme of 21 July 2014 and La Voix du Nord of 21 July 2014.