Monday, November 11, 2013

Mayhew v. Sullivan Mining Co. case brief

Mayhew v. Sullivan Mining Co. case brief summary
76 Me. 100 (1884)

Defendant mining company appealed from the judgment of the trial court (Maine) that was entered on a jury verdict awarding damages to plaintiff contractor in an action alleging that his injuries from a fall were caused by the company's negligence in directing a worker to cut a ladder hole in a mining platform without posting warnings or a barrier around the hole.


The contractor was hired to break down the rock and ore in a certain portion of the company's mineshaft and their contract provided that he was to have use of a platform in the shaft. At the direction of a company superintendent, a worker cut a ladder hole in the platform. The contractor was not notified and no warnings or barriers were erected. Consequently, the contractor fell through the hole and was injured. He sued and obtained a judgment against the company for negligence. The company appealed, claiming the contractor was merely a servant precluded from recovery and such ladder holes were customary in mining operations.


  • In affirming, the supreme judicial court ruled that the evidence showed that the contractor was not a servant of the company who could be regarded as assuming risks of negligence by co-servants and even if he were a servant, the company, as employer, had a duty to keep the premises free of unknown dangers and secret pitfalls. 
  • Evidence regarding customary practices was properly excluded because it was not an excuse for a want of ordinary care that the practice was universal.


The judgment for the contractor was affirmed.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Evolution of Legal Marketing: From Billboards to Digital Leads Over the last couple of decades, the face of legal marketing has changed a l...