Highway Closed as Twelve Million Bees Threaten Motorists

 tn_dsc02342a.jpg They seem so cute in the Bee Movie. Yet, Sacramento drivers were prevented for using a highway after a truck overturned, spilling crates with as many as 12 million bees. Various people report being stung, including a volunteer in this video who claims 80 stings. It presents a rather interesting possible tort case.

The accident occurred Sunday on Highway 99 when a tractor trailer flipped over while entering the highway on its way to Yakima, Wash. The flatbed was carrying bee crates, Each crate contained up to 30,000 bees. For the story and the video, click here.

While the volunteer may have assumed the risk, the legal liability over any stings presents an interesting question. Defendants are strictly liable for any wild animals in their possession. However, bees are generally considered domesticated due to their habit of return, or animus revertendi. Thus, when unclaimed, they are treated as ferae naturae. Yet, when kept in hives they are treated as subject to ownership and recapture. If treated as non-wild, the question for this company would remain a matter of negligence — though subject to various statutory requirements (that if violated could trigger a finding of negligence per se).

Bee stings remain a common subject of litigation against businesses and cities. For a recent lawsuit against a city, click here.

2 thoughts on “Highway Closed as Twelve Million Bees Threaten Motorists”

  1. Apiaries are one of those business with plenty of ‘anectdotal’ evidence of the effects of climate change – the likes of which have never been seen.

    The loss or gain, temporary or permanent, of that many bees, would have significant effects no matter how it’s iewed.

  2. This is most unfortunate. Bees are very important part of the viability of our largely agricultural State of California. For that matter, bees play an important role in human health. Generally, apiaries are not big business.

    It would seem logical that whatever was determined to have caused the accident, would naturally have to bear the responsibility any collateral damage caused by the bees, if any.

    However, the Vista case that was cited in the article; while also centered around bees, smells of a rat to my seasoned nose.

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