Tag: res ispa loquitur

Benzine drums

In re Polemis, 3 K.B. 560 (1921)

FACTS: The stevedores created a make-shift platform to facilitate the transfer of benzine drums. When the stevedores hoisted the sling that contained the benzine, the benzine struck the wooden platform. The fall of the benzine onto the platform caused an explosion. As a result of the fire, the ship was destroyed.

ISSUE: Whether a reasonable person would find defendant negligent and responsible for the damages caused by 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. Res ipsa loquitur applies if a defendant had sole control of the object that caused the injury. Second, the accident would not have occurred but for defendant’s negligence.

ANALYSIS: In its evaluation of the case, the Court found that the falling platform caused the explosion. The Court also agreed with the Arbitrators, who found the defendants had control over the benzine. The explosion, in the Court’s view, would not have occurred but for the benzine falling onto the platform. While defendants alleged they were unable to foresee the explosion, they are still liable for damages because the explosion was a proximate cause of the falling platform.

CONCLUSION: Because the explosion was a proximate cause of the falling platform that defendants had control over, the plaintiff can recover. Indeed, the Court dismissed the appeal.

barrels

Byrne v. Boadle, 159 E.R. 299 (1863)

FACTS: Byrne was walking in a public street past Boadle’s shop. A barrel from Defendant’s shop fell onto Byrne. As a result, Byrne was injured and incurred medical expenses.

ISSUE: Whether Byrne (Plaintiff) may rely upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to infer Boadle (Defendant) is negligent and responsible for the barrel of flour dropping onto him.

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. Res ipsa loquitur applies if a defendant had sole control of the object that caused the injury. Second, the accident would not have occurred but for defendant’s negligence.

ANALYSIS: Defendant had the duty to maintain their barrels and to ensure they did not roll out. The Court reasoned that a barrel could not roll out on its own without Defendant being negligent.

CONCLUSION: Yes. Plaintiff may rely upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to infer Defendant is negligent and responsible for the barrel of flour dropping onto him.

Coca-cola truck

Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co., 24 Cal. 2d 453 (1944)

FACTS: A bottle of Coca Cola exploded in CJ Ginson’s hand. The explosion not only inflicted a deep five-inch cut on Ginson’s hand, but it also severed the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels of her palm and thumb.

ISSUE: Whether Ginson (Plaintiff) may rely upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to infer Coca Cola (Defendant) is negligent and responsible for the defective bottle when it delivered it to Plaintiff.

RULERes ipsa loquitur applies if a defendant had sole control of the object that caused the injury. Second, the accident would not have occurred but for defendant’s negligence.

ANALYSIS: Carbonated liquid bottles that are properly prepared do not typically explode when carefully handled. Therefore, it can be inferred that the bottle was defective at the time Defendant relinquished control. Because Defendant failed to discover the flaw, it is liable for negligence.

CONCLUSION: Because Plaintiff showed Defendant had sole control over the delivery and inspection of the bottles, Plaintiff has satisfied the requirements under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

CONCURRENCE: (Shenk, J., Curtis, J., Carter, J., and Schauer, J., concurred) A manufacturer incurs liability when it knows the object it places on the market will be used without inspection, and the object proves to be defective and causes injury to a human being. While liability should not extend to injuries that cannot be traced to the product when it reaches the market, a manufacturer’s liability should rests on whether a product is safe during normal and proper use.