Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dillon v. Twin State Gas & Electric Co. case brief

Dillon v. Twin State Gas & Electric Co. case brief summary
163 A. 111 (1932)

CASE SYNOPSIS
In a negligence action arising from a minor's death by electrocution after falling from a bridge and grabbing defendant utility company's live wires, defendant appealed New Hampshire trial court's entry of judgment for plaintiff administrator of decedent's estate.

CASE FACTS
Referring to defendant utility company's wires, defendant's foreman complained to city about public bridge's use as a playground by trespassing boys. After falling from the bridge, decedent minor was electrocuted upon grabbing defendant's live wires. In negligence action, defendant appealed trial court's entry of judgment for plaintiff administrator of decedent's estate.

DISCUSSION

  • Court overruled defendant's exception, finding evidence sufficient to hold defendant liable for exposing decedent to danger of charged wires because denying liability to known trespassers was reasonably regarded as a greater injustice than imposing duty of reasonable care on a negligent defendant. 
  • Defendant had duty to provide insulation at points where there was reason to apprehend known trespassers might come in contact with the wires. 
  • To prevent falling, decedent's use of defendant's wires was non-possessory and reasonable. 
  • Defendant should not be allowed to defend an indefensible act by showing plaintiff did something unlawful as to a third person.
CONCLUSION
Court overruled defendant's exception to trial court's entry of judgment for plaintiff administrator of decedent's estate, finding evidence sufficient to hold defendant liable for exposing decedent to dangerously charged wires because defendant had duty to insulate wires where it was reasonable to apprehend known trespassers might come in contact therewith.

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