Friday, March 23, 2012

UK V. WAGON MOUND case brief


• Wagon Mound spilled oil into the water; fire on Mort’s Dock; Mort’s sued WM
• court find that WM is not liable for the fire damage to the dock
• court finds that it is not foreseeable that oil on top of water will not lead to fire
• Under Polemis, there would be liability. The court rejects Polemis.
• Polemis is not good law because it stands for the proposition that foreseeability is not the test. The court wants to replace the direct/indirect test with the foreseeability test.
• Jurisprudential housework: rejection of Polemis, and adoption of foreseeability test
• POLICY rationale: can’t expect defendant to be responsible for every injury that occurred after its conduct. It’s simply not fair. P. 407 – a man must be considered to be responsible for the probable consequences of his act. To demand more of him is too harsh a rule, to demand less is to ignore that civilized order requires the observance of a minimum standard of behavior.
Wagon Mound II (Tort Stories)
• ships (docked in the water when the fire occurred) were damaged; shipowners sue Wagon Mound
• rule in WM 1 is that injury was unforeseeable and therefore WM not liable to Mort’s Dock
• However, the court changes its reasoning in the second case, holding WM liable and granting the shipowners damages
• Court sees some type of foreseeability that damage of the ships was foreseeable.
• There seems to be a paradox. How can these two cases be reconciled?
• In WM 1, the dock owners were welding. The court may have deemed that this action might have constituted contributory negligence.
• In WM 2, shipowner plaintiffs were in no way contributorily negligent. So they get to recover.
• The potential loss in WM 2 is huge – the ships were serious property.

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