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.