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Ford v. Trident Fisheries Co.

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Brief Fact Summary.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a plaintiff must establish that the defendant caused the injury to the plaintiff in order to succeed in a negligence claim.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

In order to be successful in a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury. 

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

This subject has been learnedly discussed by Chief Justice MARSHALL in Johnson v. M'Intosh and by Chief Justice TANEY in Martin v. Waddell and in these cases the Supreme Court of the United States said: If discovery be made and possession be taken under the authority of an existing government, which is acknowledged by the emigrants, it is supposed to be well settled that the discovery is made for the benefit of the whole nation, and the vacant soil is to be disposed of by that organ of the government which has the constitutional power to dispose of the national domain.

View Full Point of Law

Ford (Plaintiff) was working on one of Trident Fisheries (Defendant) boats when one night he fell overboard. A rescue mission was initiated however the rescue boat that was lowered only had one oar. As a result, Ford was never recovered and ultimately died. The Administatrix of his estate filed a negligence claim against the defendant. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for dismiss and this appeal follows. 


Whether a plaintiff can recover damages under a negligence claim when the plaintiff failed to prove the defendant caused the injury.


No. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant caused the injury. 


The court notes that even if the missing oar was found to be negligent there is no proof that the missing oar caused the injury to plaintiff. 

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