Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Foster v. Preston Mill Co. case brief

Foster v. Preston Mill Co. case brief summary
268 P.2d 645 (Wash. 1954)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court for King County (Washington) entered upon findings in favor of plaintiff in an action for damages under a theory of absolute liability.

Blasting operations conducted by defendant frightened mother mink owned by plaintiff and caused the mink to kill their kittens. Plaintiff brought an action to recover damages on the theory of absolute liability, and, in the alternative, on the theory of nuisance.

  • The trial court, without a jury, rendered judgment for plaintiff. 
  • The theory adopted by the court was that, after defendant received notice of the effect that its blasting operations were having upon the mink, it was absolutely liable for all damages of that nature thereafter sustained. 
  • The trial court decided in defendant's favor on the question of nuisance. 
  • The supreme court reversed holding it was the exceedingly nervous disposition of mink, rather than the normal risks inherent in blasting operations, which was required, as a matter of sound policy, to bear the responsibility for the loss suffered by plaintiff.
Judgment reversed; trial court erred in entering judgment for plaintiff because plaintiff's damage was not the type of consequences that fell within the extraordinary risk of defendant's blasting and thus was not a risk that made blasting ultrahazardous.

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