Torts 2 - Case List - Spring 2002
Casebook - Prosser, Wade and Schwartz - Torts, 10th Ed.
Strict Liability - Animals, Abnormally dangerous Activities
Ryland v. Fletcher
, 159 Eng. Rep (1865), p. 687 - three cases, Def, PL, PL,
Original case to establish concept of strict liability for harm, though no fault exists
on part of defendant. Actual rule of the case was mistakenly held for a long time to
be the 2nd trial rule, which was elaborated upon and dramatically narrowed in the
final third trial in the house of lords; namely, that if Δ is engaged in a non-natural
use of the land, having introduced something on the land, then the Δ was liable for
foreseeable damage resulting.
Bridges v. The Kentucky Stone Co., Inc
, 425 N.E. 2d 125 (1981), p.694 - Dynamite
explosion. Dynamite was stolen from Δ, used by a third party weeks later and many
miles away to intentionally blow up π's house - killing his son in the process. π
argued that Δ was negligent in storing the dynamite, enabling 3rd party to obtain it.
Court held for Δ, saying that the strict liability associated with dynamite was the
risk from improper, even negligent storage, but that associated with actual use of
the dynamite and the damage from blasting. The theft and criminal usage of the
dynamite was a superceding intervening cause and there by broke the chain of
liability here. [See RS 2nd §520]
Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. Co. v. American Cyanamid
, 916 F.2d 1174 (1990), p. 693
π attempting to recover from Δ for costs of cleanup for -
Activity, not the
item/thing, is what makes something abnormally dangerous.
Limitations of strict liability
Foster v. Preston Mill Co.
, 44 Wash.2d 440 (1954), p. 704 - Blasting & minks;
Strict Liability is limited for public policy reasons (as with prox. cause in regular
negligence) to the type of harm that makes the activity abnormally dangerous to
Golden v. Amory
, 329 Mass. 484 (1952), p. 707 - hurricane, two counts (1)
defendant had no permit from country for dike; (2) negligence in maintenance of
, which misapplied the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher, saying that
strict liabilty is not applied for unforeseeable
acts of God.
true, and the Restat. 2
of Torts doesn’t hold this.
Sandy v. Bushey
, 124 Me. 320 (1925), p. 708 - Horse kicked π. Issue of whether
contributory neg. by π serves to abrogate liability in situations of strict liability.
Courts said there was no contrib. neg. from the evidence - ∆’s vicious horse “snuck
up” on π and attacked. Far from being contributory, the π tried to avoid the
problem. Several other issues here: (1) Prox. cause rears its head even in strict
.. issue of whether keeping the animal alone is enough to impose liability
vs. actions done by plaintiff that may have brought on the harm. (2) Contrib neg
- 1. A greater or superior force; an irresistible force "force majeure" 2. A loss that results