TortsII-StrictLibaility-IndianaHarborBeltRRCo_v_AmericanCyanamidCo by aiowmnyv




Indiana Harbor Belt R. R. Co. v. American Cyanamid Co., US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, 1990 Should the shipper of a hazardous chemical be held strictly liable for the consequences of a spill or any accident to the shipment in route? Issue Reasoning
Determining whether an activity subjects the shipper to strict liability is a question of law. If (c) can be done, then we have just negligence. (e) and (f) serve to give the actor avenues for reducing the potential harm. The greater (a) and (b) are, the more likely we’re going to find the actor liable. Cases of storage are of no help because the storer has more control than a shipper. Not reason not to believe that the spill was not due to a regular negligent act in failing to inspect the lid: the negligence could’ve been due to any or all of: ∏, ∆, or MO Pacific – it could simply be a case of lack of care. (e) Can’t not ship it through Chicago.. All switching stations are in metropolitan areas. Chicago handled 3rd highest volume of hazardous chemicals in nation. (a) (b) Not reasonable to expect the shipper what the best routes are. Even if he did, that might result in the use of poorer tracks and longer journeys. Even if that results in consequences being less, the accident cost (a x b) would be higher (because a rises) The relevant activity is transportation and not manufacturing and shipping. Rest approach to strict liability is allocative: picking a regime: Negligence or Strict Liability? Fact that they are big is irrelevant – anyway, ∏ is big parents (Conrail and Soo Line) The mfg of a product is not considered to be engaged in an abnormally dangerous activity merely because the product becomes dangerous when it is handled or used in some way after it leaves his premises, even if the danger is foreseeable

A typical case of strict liability is found where (a) the risk (probability) of harm is great; (b) the harm that would ensue if the risk materialized is great; (c) yet, such an accident can not be prevented by the exercise of due care; (d) the activity is not a matter of common usage; (e) the activity is inappropriate to the place in which it takes place; and (f) the value to the community of the activity does not appear to be great enough to offset its unavoidable risks

∆ is a mfg of a chemical of which it wanted a train tank car load transported from LA to NJ which Missouri Pacific picked up. At the ∏’s switching station (south of Chicago), it was discovered that the lid was broken and about 4000 gallons of the chemical spilled out. Due to concerns over contamination, the area was evacuated, and ultimately the Illinois Dept of Environmental protection ordered ∏ to take decontamination measures at a cost of $981,022.75.

Ultra-hazardousness or abnormal dangerousness is a property not of substances, but of activities

Held Procedure P argues

Reversed and remanded – Remanded for trial on Negligence issue. Action to recover costs from ∆. Trial court found that ∆ was strictly liable and granted summary judgment. (1) Cyanamid maintained the tank car negligently (2) Transportation of the chemical is an abnormally dangerous activity – Cyanamid (the shipper) should be strictly liable to the switching line. o o o Guille (balloonist case) and Rylands (Storage case). The most relevant factor is that Cyanamid introduced the chemical into the stream of commerce that happened to pass through the Chicago metropolitan area. They’re big, we’re small… we almost went bankrupt.

D argues

Does this rule to all ultra-hazardous activities or just shipping?



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