Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Threadgill v. Peabody Coal Co. case brief

Threadgill v. Peabody Coal Co. case brief summary
526 P.2d 676 (Colo. App. 1974)

Defendant coal company sought review of a judgment of the District Court of Mesa County (Colorado) that held the coal company liable for damages for the loss of certain equipment owned by plaintiff independent contractor, which was lost in the process of probing test holes drilled by the coal company.

The contractor hired by the coal company to probe the test holes and coal company employees were unable to recover the probing device that became stuck in a hole. The contractor's complaint alleged two claims for relief: that the loss of the probe was due to the coal company's negligence in attempting to recover the probe, and that the coal company was obligated under a contract between the parties to pay the value of any equipment owned by the contractor that was lost during the probing operation. The trial court found that although there was no negligence by the coal company or an express agreement on the probe loss issue, the contractor had demonstrated that drilling industry custom placed the risk of probe loss on the driller, that is the coal company, absent an agreement otherwise.


  • The court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court finding that, in absent other factors, trade usage would place on the driller the responsibility for the lost device in addition to the cost of the recovery attempt. 
  • However, the court concluded that the finding that negligence was made irrelevant by such usage was rejected, as a matter of law, and the case was remanded.
The court affirmed the district court's judgment, which held that the coal company was liable for damages for the lost equipment. However, the court rejected the district court's findings about the relevance of the negligence issue, and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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