Citation. Spano v. Perini Corp., 25 N.Y.2d 11, 250 N.E.2d 31, 302 N.Y.S.2d 527
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Brief Fact Summary.
Spano’s (Plaintiff’s) garage was destroyed by Perini Corp.’s (Defendant’s) non-negligent explosion of 194 sticks of dynamite on its nearby property. The trial court awarded Plaintiff damages.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
One who engages in blasting must assume responsibility and be liable without fault for any injury he causes to neighboring property.
Spano’s (Plaintiff’s) garage and Davis’ (Plaintiff’s) car, which was in the garage, were both wrecked by shock waves from a dynamite blast set off by Defendant on its nearby property. Defendant set off 194 sticks of dynamite about 125 feet from Plaintiff’s garage. There was no physical trespass and no proof of negligence on the part of Defendant. Prior law under Booth v. Rome required that negligence must be shown, unless the blast was accompanied by a physical invasion of the property. No attempt at trial was made to show that Defendant had failed to use reasonable care. The court awarded Spano, $4,400.00, and Davis, $329.00. Defendant appealed.
May a person that has sustained property damage caused by blasting on nearby property, maintain an action for damages without a showing that the blaster was negligent?
Yes. Judgment affirmed.
* One who engages in blasting must assume responsibility and be liable without fault for any injury he causes to neighboring property. This holding overturns the holding in Booth.
* In Booth, the court held that public policy is promoted by the construction of towns and cities and improvement of property. An unnecessary restraint on freedom of action of a property owner hinders this. However, the court in this case, points to the fact that the Plaintiff in Booth was not seeking to exclude the Defendant from blasting and thus preventing desirable improvements to the latter’s property. Rather, the Plaintiff was merely seeking compensation for the damage that was inflicted upon his own property.
* In this case, the court asked, who should bear the cost of the resulting damage? The innocent neighbor should not bear the cost of the intentional acts of his neighbor. Thus, Defendant is free to use 194 sticks of dynamite, 125 feet away from Plaintiff so long as he pays for whatever damage it causes.
When dealing with explosives, a Defendant is strictly liable for the resulting damage done to a neighbor’s land. Abnormally dangerous materials are always subject to strict liability, but make sure that it was the abnormally dangerous activity that caused the injury.