Tag: foreseeability doctrine

Fireworks

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 284 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (1928)

FACTS: A man carried a package that contained fireworks onto a train. When he dropped the package, it fell onto the rails. The fireworks inside the package exploded. As a result of the explosion, the Plaintiff was injured.

ISSUE: Whether Plaintiff can recover damages from the Defendant for negligence as a result of the explosion.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability, the defendant is only liable for harm which he reasonably foresaw.

ANALYSIS: In the Court’s evaluation of the case, the Plaintiff cannot bring an action for negligence unless she can show the invasion of a legally protected interest. In other words, a violation of a right. Here, the Court felt the Plaintiff failed to show how the explosion was wrong to herself, in violation of her own right. The Court further said, if the Plaintiff fails to bring a tort for the court to redress, it cannot consider damages.

CONCLUSION: I disagree with the Court, in that, Plaintiff failed to show the Defendant was the cause of the explosion that led to her injuries, and that she cannot recover damages.

DISSENT: (Andrew, J., dissenting) I agree with Justice Andrew, in that, Defendant’s wrongful act made them liable for its proximate results. See In re PolemisIn his view, when a plaintiff’s injuries result from defendant’s unlawful act, the defendant is liable for the consequences. Justice Andrew further said that the unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable does not matter.

Oil spillage

Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd v. Morts Dock & Engineering Company Ltd.

(The Wagon Mound, No. 1) [1961] UKPC 1

FACTS: Petitioner’s oil travelled into the ocean. The spillage of oil then travelled to Respondents boat. Although it congealed, the Respondents’ work came into contact with the oil. As consequence, their boat caught on fire.

ISSUE: Whether a reasonable person would find Petitioner negligent and responsible for the damages caused by the spillage to which resulted in a fire.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the reasonable foreseeability doctrine, a defendant is only liable for injuries which are reasonably foreseeable.

ANALYSIS: The Court analyzed the holding in In re Polemis, which asserts a defendant is responsible for the injury whether reasonably foreseeable or not. In the present case, the Court found that an actor cannot be held liable for negligence for injuries which are not direct. Reasonable foreseeability cannot be rejected because Petitioner is judged by what a reasonable person ought to foresee. Indeed, this corresponds with the direct consequence test.

CONCLUSION: Although the fire was a proximate cause of Petitioner’s oil spillage, the Respondent cannot recover because the accident was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court overturned the holding in Polemis based on this rationale.

Moving walkway

Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 166 N.E. 173 (1929)

FACTS: Murphy stepped onto a moving walkway at Steeplechase Amusement Park, felt a sudden jerk, and was thrown to the floor.

ISSUE: Whether Murphy (Plaintiff) can recover damages from Steeplechase Amusement Co. (Defendant) for his injuries.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability, the defendant is only liable for harm which he reasonably foresaw.

ANALYSIS: The Court applied the legal maxim, volenti non fit injuria. The Plaintiff took part in an activity at Defendant’s Park. Plaintiff knew dangers could arise while participating in the activity. Therefore, the Plaintiff foresaw the harms that resulted from his participation.

CONCLUSION: Because the Plaintiff foresaw the harms that resulted from his participation in the activity, he cannot recover damages from Defendant for his injuries

Red Buick

MacPherson v. Buick Motor Company, 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050 (1916)

FACTS: MacPherson bought a Buick from a car dealership. While MacPherson was in the Buick it collapsed. MacPherson was injured. The wheel and spokes on the Buick also crumbled into pieces.

ISSUE: Whether Buick Motor Company (Defendant) owed a duty of care to customers.

RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the reasonable foreseeability doctrine, a defendant is only liable for injuries which are reasonably foreseeable.

ANALYSIS: First, Defendants made a defective automobile. The defective automobile was dangerous. The defective automobile’s dangerous nature also placed Plaintiff’s life in peril. Second, Defendants sold the automobile to the purchaser without testing it first. When Defendants did so, Defendants knew it would be used by other persons. It also knew there was a reasonable likelihood of danger to the persons who used it. From this, it can be said that the defectiveness of the automobile foreshadowed Plaintiff’s consequences. Given these points, Defendants breached its duty to make its automobiles with care.

CONCLUSION: It is clear that a reasonable person would have foreseen and prevent the dangers caused by the defective automobile. As a result, the Defendants are liable for Plaintiff’s injuries.