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Byrne v. Boadle

Citation. 159 Eng. Rep. 299 (Exch. 1865)
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Brief Fact Summary.

A barrel fell from a window on a man walking past the shop.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The standard to determine negligence is whether it is more likely than not that the injury would not have occurred without the defendant being negligent.


Plaintiff was walking past the shop of the defendant when a barrel fell and struck him on the shoulder.  He was severely injured and brought suit.  No one saw if the barrel was being lowered by a rope or not, nor how it had come to fall out of the window.


What is the standard under which negligence must be shown, and did the plaintiff meet that standard?


Yes, the plaintiff met the standard to show negligence.


The court held that the plaintiff must show that it was more likely than not that the accident wouldn’t have happened without the defendant being negligent.  This standard, in mathematical terms means that it must be >50% probability that the defendant was negligent. Here, the court reasoned that barrels do not just fall out of windows, and that the circumstances alone show that there was more than a 50% chance the defendants were negligent.

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