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Adams v. Bullock

Citation. 158 N.E. 93 (N.Y. 1919)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A young boy electrocuted himself when he swung a wire into the defendants trolly wire.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The duty of care is not breached when the harm is not reasonably foreseeable.


The defendants trolley line made use of electric cables to run its trolleys.  The cables were beneath the bridge where the plaintiff was walking, well ensconced.  While walking, the plaintiff swung the wire over the edge of the bridge, where it wrapped around and swung up into the electric wire.  The plaintiff was electrocuted and burned.


The issue is whether the trolly company was negligent in having insufficient precautions against a child swinging a wire?


No, the trolly company was not negligent because the harm was not reasonably foreseeable and they exercised reasonable care.


The trolley company exercised all possible precautions to minimize the perils of the electric cables.  They anticipated the types of harm that could reasonably result (among them was not a child swinging an 8 foot wire) so because they exercised reasonable care they are not negligent.

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