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Butterfield v. Forrester

Citation. 11 East 59, 103 Eng.Rep. 926
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant created a partial obstruction by placing a pole across part of a public road. Plaintiff was injured when he and his horse crashed into the pole. Plaintiff sued defendant for damages.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A person is barred from recovery of damages if he or she did not exercise reasonable and ordinary care to avoid the danger.


Forrester (defendant) was doing repairs on his home and placed a pole across part of the public road. One evening, Butterfield (plaintiff) left a public house, riding “very hard” and “violently” down the road. People were just beginning to light candles. However, there was enough light to discern Forrester’s obstruction from 100 yards away. Butterfield was riding too violently down the road to see the obstruction in time. Butterfield crashed into the pole, was thrown from his horse, and was injured. Butterfield sued Forrester for damages. The trial court found for Forrester, concluding that Butterfield did not ride with reasonable and ordinary care.


Whether a person is barred from recovery of damages if he or she did not exercise reasonable and ordinary care?


Yes. If Butterfield had exercised ordinary care by not riding very hard and violently, he would have seen the obstruction in the road. The holding of the trial court is affirmed.


In order to recover, Butterfield would have to prove: (1) the obstruction of the road had to be the fault of the defendant, and (2) there had to be no want of ordinary care to avoid it on the part of the plaintiff. If the Butterfield had used ordinary care, then he would have seen the obstruction in time to avoid it. Therefore, the collision happened entirely from Butterfield’s own fault.

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