ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. While discharging cargo from a ship, a wooden plank fell causing a spark to ignite the petrol the ship carried. The resulting fire destroyed the ship.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The exact way in which damage or injury results need not be foreseen for liability to attach, the fact that the negligent act caused the result is enough.
Issue. Whether the charterer’s negligence was a proximate cause of the fire.
Held. The fire was a foreseeable consequence of the negligence.
Discussion. The finding that the spark was too remote to confer liability on the charterers was based on the contention of the charterers that the fire was an unforeseen consequence of the falling wooden plank. The actual anticipations of the negligent party are irrelevant when considering whether the resulting damage is remote. In this case, the fire was a direct result of the negligent act and therefore the charterers are liable for the fire. That damage that might result when a wooden plank falls while discharging cargo is a foreseeable consequence of the negligence, whatever that damage might be.