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In order to succeed on a claim of negligence, a plaintiff first must establish that the defendant owed a legal duty of care. Whether a duty exists is a question of common law, to be determined by 'reference to existing social values and customs and appropriate social policy.' Cremins v. Clancy, 415 Mass. 289, 292, 612 N.E.2d 1183 (1993), and cases cited. As a general principle of tort law, every actor has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid physical harm to others. See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 302 comment a (1965) ('In general, anyone who does an affirmative act is under a duty to others to exercise the care of a reasonable man to protect them against an unreasonable risk of harm to them arising out of the act').

There are a limited number of situations, however, in which the other legal requirements of negligence may be satisfied, but the imposition of a precautionary duty is deemed to be either inadvisable or unworkable. See, e.g., Luoni v. Berube, 431 Mass. 729, 731, 729 N.E.2d 1108 (2000) (social host owes no duty of reasonable care to protect guests from fireworks set by third party); ...

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