Sunday, February 3, 2013

Petition of Kinsman Transit Co. case brief

Petition of Kinsman Transit Co. case summary
338 F.2d 708 (2d Cir. 1964)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY:  The Defendant requested review of the decision of the District Court for the Western District of New York pursuant to 28 U.S.C.S. § 1292(a)(3) which adjudicated liability in an action that involved an interlocutory decree in admiralty.

FACTS:
-The defendant, a ship owner, was found liable after his ship collided with plaintiff's ship during inclement weather conditions.
-After the plaintiff's ship was struck, the ship careened out of control and struck a drawbridge.
-Although the city of Buffalo was notified in time to raise the bridge, the city failed to act promptly. -The lower court found that defendants were jointly and severally liable.
-The lower court, however, held that defendant city was solely liable for damages sustained by the other tortfeasors.
-On appeal, the defendants contended that certain limits of liability should be afforded.
-The court affirmed the lower court's ruling.  The ruling found the defendants liable, however ruled that the city's failure to raise the bridge before the plaintiff's ship crashed into it did not mandate that appellant city was solely liable.
-The court stated that damages should be divided among the defendants.

RULES:
An actor whose negligence has set a dangerous force in motion is not saved from liability for harm it has caused to innocent persons solely because another has negligently failed to take action that would have avoided this. As against third persons, one negligent actor cannot defend on the basis that the other had the last clear chance.

CONCLUSION:
Where all the defendants were liable for the damages to the plaintiff's ship in admiralty action, the court ruled that the liability must be divided between the defendants and not solely on the defendant city.
The judgment was affirmed but modified.

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