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Byrne v. Boadle

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 2 H. & C. 722, 159 Eng. Rep. 299 (Exch. 1863).

Brief Fact Summary. Byrne (Plaintiff) testified that he was walking along Scotland Road when he evidently lost consciousness. Witnesses testified that a barrel of flour fell on him. Neither Plaintiff nor any of the witnesses testified as to anything done by Boadle (Defendant) that could have led to the barrel falling.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A plaintiff must persuade a jury that more likely than not the harm-causing event does not occur in the absence of negligence. The plaintiff does not have to eliminate all other possible causes for the harm, nor does the fact that the defendant raises possible non-negligent causes for the harm defeat plaintiff’s effort to invoke res ipsa loquitur (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself). The key is that a reasonable jury must be able to find that the likely cause was negligence.


Facts. Defendant’s shop was adjacent to the road on which Plaintiff was walking, and the barrel appeared to have fallen, or was dropped from the shop.

Issue. Was the mere fact of the incident occurring, i.e., the barrel having fallen from the shop, sufficient to presume negligence?

Content Type: Brief


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