Various Torts Law Briefs VI

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Various Torts Law Briefs VI Powered By Docstoc
					TORTS FOR 11/08/04
IN RE ARBITRATION BETWEEN POLEMIS & FURNESS, WITHY & CO., Court of Appeal, 1921 History: Owners claimed value of vessel due to negligence of charter‟s servants; charterers contend damages claimed were too remote; arbitrators found ship was lost by fire that was caused by a spark igniting the petrol vapor in the hold, the spark being from a board that fell and the causing of the spark could not reasonably have been anticipated from the falling of the board, though some damage to the ship might be reasonably anticipated Facts: Respondents chartered their vessel to appellants to carry cargo to Casablanca in Morocco; cargo included benzene or petrol in cases; a heavy plank fell into the hold where petrol was stowed when discharging at Casablanca and there was an explosion that caught the boat on fire and destroyed it Issue: Whether the damage caused was foreseeable by a reasonable person who committed the negligent act Holding: Appeal dismissed Analysis: Arbitrators found as a fact the falling of the plank was due to negligence of the defendant‟s servants Court finds it immaterial that causing of the spark by falling of the plank could not have been reasonably anticipated Given the breach of duty which constitutes the negligence, and the damage as a direct result of that negligence, the anticipations of the person whose negligent act has produced the damage is irrelevant To determine negligence, need to determine whether any reasonable person would foresee that the act would cause damage, if he would not, then the act is not negligent; it doesn‟t matter if the damage caused isn‟t the kind that was foreseeable, so long as it was directly traceable to the negligent act In this case  it was negligent in discharging cargo to knock down the planks of the temporary staging b/c it could‟ve caused damage to the workmen, cargo, or ship

BARTOLONE V. JECKOVICH, Supreme Ct. of NY, 1984 History: Jury returned verdict of $500,000 for plaintiff; court granted defendant‟s motion to set verdict aside b/c it said there was no way the jury could decide plaintiff‟s total mental breakdown was based on a minor accident, unless plaintiff would stipulate to a reduced verdict of $30,000; plaintiff appeals Facts: Plaintiff was involved in a four-car chain reaction accident for which defendants were found liable; he was previously a big body builder and subsequently, was broken down; after the accident, he was treated for minor injuries; later, he suffered from a mental breakdown; he was a previous schizophrenic and the accident triggered it again; he would not work out anymore, bathe, etc. and could not pursue his non-physical activities like he used to like to before the accident Issue: Whether a defendant can be liable for aggravating a preexisting illness by his negligent act Holding: Order reversed and jury‟s verdict of $500,00 for plaintiff reinstated Analysis: There is precedent for this kind of case Defendant must take a plaintiff as he finds him and may be liable for damages for aggravation of a preexisting illness

OVERSEAS TANKSHIP (UK) LTD. V. MORTS DOCK & ENGINEERING CO. (THE WAGON MOUND NO. 1), Privy Council, 1961 History: Appeal from an order of the Full Court of Supreme Court of New South Wales dismissing an appeal by Overseas (defendant/appellant) from a judgment Trial court found defendants did not know oil could be ignited while floating on top of the water; plaintiff won in trial court; Supreme Court of New South Whales affirmed; defendants appealed to Privy Council who reversed the decision Facts: Morts (plaintiff/respondent) did business of ship-building/repair and used Sheerlegs Wharf for their business; vessel, Corrimel, was moored alongside wharf and being refitted by Morts; her mast was lying on wharf and a # of Morts‟ employees were working on it and the vessel, using electric and oxy-acetylene welding equipment At the same time, Overseas were charterers of ss Wagon Mound, oil-burning vessel, moored at Caltex Wharf, 600 ft from Sheerlegs, to discharge gasoline products and take in bunkering oil; through carelessness of Overseas servants, large amount of bunkering oil spilled into the bay; Overseas made no attempt to disperse the oil; Wagon Mound set sail shortly after Oil under wharf caught on fire, spread rapidly, and damaged the wharf, stuff on the wharf, and the Corrimal Judge found outbreak of fire was due to debris which was smoldering from molten metal falling from wharf bursting into flames and that set the floating oil afire directly or by first setting fire to a wooden pile coated by oil and ignited flames spreading over the surface of the oil Issue: Whether defendant should be liable for damages resulting directly from his negligence, no matter how unforeseeable or grave. Holding: Appeal should be allowed; Morts action so far as it related to damage caused by the negligence of Overseas be dismissed Analysis: Tortious liability is founded on the consequences, not the act, of breach of duty by defendant

PALSGRAF V. THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD CO., Ct of Appeals of NY, 1928 History: Appeal from a judgment of Appellate Division of Supreme Court affirming judgment in favor of plaintiff Facts: Palsgraf standing on a platform of Long Island RR‟s; train stopped at station for a destination other than that which Palsgraf bought a ticket; two men ran to catch it, one got to platform; other was carrying a package and jumped on the car, but seemed like he was about to fall; a guard on the car, who held door open, reached forward to help him and another guard on platform pushed him from behind; package fell on rails; package contained fireworks, but there would have been no way to see that; fireworks exploded; explosion threw down some scales at other end of platform, striking Palsgraf, causing injuries for which she sues Issue: Law of causation, remote Holding: Judgment of Appellate Division reversed; complaint dismissed Analysis: Negligence is not actionable unless it involved the invasion of a legally protected interest, the violation of a right Negligence and duty are strictly correlative Wrongdoer is the one who was carrying the package, not the one who exploded it Plaintiff must show a wrong to herself, a violation of her own right

PETITIONS OF THE KINDSMAN TRANSIT CO., US Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1964 History: Six appeals from an interlocutory decree in admiralty adjudicating liability; owners of two vessels petitioned for exoneration from/limitation of liability Facts: MacGilvray Shiras, owned by Kinsman, was moored at dock of Concrete Elevator, operated by Continental Grain, on south side of river, three miles up from Michigan Ave. Bridge; Shiras was loaded w/grain owned by Continental; large chunks of ice began to build up between Shiras and the bank; pressure on mass by her starboard bow by force of current and floating ice against her port quarter; mooring lines began to part and „deadman‟ to which mooring cable had been attached, pulled out of the ground (judge finding it had not been properly constructed/inspected); stern lines parted and it drifted into the current Shiras struck the bow of the Michael K. Tewksbury; hit caused Tewksbury‟s mooring lines to part; collision caused damage to the Druckenmiller, which was moored opposite of Tewksbury; Michigan Ave. Bridge was just being raised when Tewksbury crashed into its center; two vessels substantially dammed the flow, causing water and ice to back up three miles upstream Issue: Proximate cause Holding: Damages resulted from same physical forces whose existence required the exercise of greater care than was displayed and were of the same general sort that was expectable, unforeseeability of the exact developments and of the extent of the loss will not limit liability Analysis: Shipowner and wharfinger having owed a duty of care to all w/in reach of ship‟s known destructive power, the impossibility of advance identification of the particular person who would be hurt is without legal consequence Foreseeable consequences of City‟s failure to raise bridge not limited to Shiras and Tewksbury; City was w/in area of hazard All claimants met Palsgraf requirement of being persons to whom the actors owed a “duty of care” Foreseeability of danger is necessary to render conduct negligent