Login

Login

To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library

Add

Search

Login
Register

Hoyt v. Jeffers

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff believed that the sparks from Defendant’s saw mill caused Plaintiff’s hotel to catch fire and burn down and wanted to use circumstantial evidence to prove Defendant’s guilt. Plaintiff sued Defendant. The jury entered a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A jury may consider and base its decision upon circumstantial evidence of causation when no direct evidence has been introduced.

    Facts.

    Jeffers (Defendant) owned and operated a saw mill. The mill had a chimney from which sparks were seen to escape regularly. The mill was located near a hotel owned and operated by Hoyt (Plaintiff). Plaintiff’s hotel caught fire and burned down. No one saw the fire begin or what caused the fire, but Plaintiff believed sparks emanating from Defendant’s mill through its chimney caused the fire. Defendant had increased the height of the chimney just prior to the fire, but sparks had been seen to escape both before and after the chimney was changed. Plaintiff filed suit and the matter went to trial. Plaintiff was permitted to introduce evidence showing that sparks had escaped from the chimney on previous occasions, that there had been previous fires due to the sparks, that the hotel had been set on fire previously due to the sparks, and that clothes hanging on clothes lines near the mill had often had holes burnt in them or were sooty due to the sparks. Defendant objected to the entry of the evidence, claiming that the chimney had been substantially changed since the incidents referred to in Plaintiff’s evidence. The jury entered a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a jury may consider and base its decision upon circumstantial evidence of causation when no direct evidence has been introduced.

    Held.

    Yes. The trial court’s ruling is affirmed. A jury may consider and base its decision upon circumstantial evidence of causation when no direct evidence has been introduced.

    Discussion.

    A litigant may offer into evidence anything that would tend to prove, or is calculated to produce a reasonable belief, that the facts are as he says they are. It is the jury’s duty to weigh this and all of the evidence when making a decision. In the current matter, the evidence produced by Plaintiff is sufficiently calculated to produce a reasonable belief that the fire was caused by the sparks emanating from the mill’s chimney.


    Create New Group

      Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following