Monday, November 11, 2013

Brower v. New York Central & H.R.R. case brief

Brower v. New York Central & H.R.R. case brief summary
103 A. 166 (N.J. 1918)

Appellant railroad company sought review of an order from the Hudson County Circuit Court (New Jersey), which entered a judgment for respondent owners of a horse and wagon in their negligence action.


A train ran into the wagon and killed the horse. The owners also sought a recovery for the property in the wagon, which were empty barrels and a keg of cider that were stolen from the scene of the accident. The railroad contested the owners right to recover damages for the value of the barrels and cider because there was no proof they had been destroyed.

  • Upon review, the court found that if they were taken by thieves, the owners proved they were destroyed as far as the cause was concerned. 
  • The railroad maintained that its negligence was not the proximate cause of the loss of the barrels and cider. 
  • The court found that the railroad had two detectives on board the train to prevent theft. 
  • Thus, it had knowledge that portable property without a guard was likely to be made off with. 
  • While the thieves did not interfere with the railroad's negligence in causing the accident, the two causes were simultaneous and concurrent. 
  • The theft was a joint, and not an intervening, cause of the owners' loss. The theft did not excuse the railroad's liability for the loss of the barrels and the cider.

The court affirmed the judgment for the owners in their negligence action against the railroad.

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