Facts of the case:
On 24th August, 1932, a man named Bird, who was the defendant's servant, was
driving a two-horse carriage, in the course of his employment. For the purpose
of his masters bidding, bird unloaded the cart in Quinley's Yard on the left
side of Paradise Street, where the horse carriage was initially parked, at that
time it had chain on the near back wheel of carriage, placed to act as a drag-on
to prevent it from sliding down the slope of street.
The wharf owner wanted to continue with their work and had to unload another van
at their wharf, considering this; Bird took the horses and carriage out into the
busy Paradise Street and left them unattended on the left side of the street,
facing the police station while he went to get the delivery receipt from wharf
An independent observer recorded that, two boys were coming the carriages way
and one of them mischievously threw stones at horses, which is why, the horses
started bolting. They ran a considerable distance with no one interfering in
between but as soon as they crossed the police station, police officer on duty
(The plaintiff), noticed that an old woman and some children were in grave
danger because of the approaching horses.
So endangering his life, the plaintiff caught hold of one of the horses and held
on for 15 yards and finally stopped the horses. But in doing so, he sustained
serious personal injuries, for which he demanded damages which was decided to be
350 by both the parties.
In the initial case of Haynes V. Harwood
the decision was in favor of the
plaintiff (police officer, Thomas John Haynes). Where the plaintiff had claimed
for damages from the defendant through the King's Bench in 1935. An appeal was
filed in the court of appeal by the defendant. The appeal was later dismissed.
The following issues were raised in the court:
Following rules were considered by the court while deciding the case:
- Weather the defendants were liable for Tort of Negligence when they left
the horses unattended.
- Weather the maxim "novus actus interveniens" applies here as a defense.
- Weather it was the legal duty of the officer to protect people on street
- Weather the maxim "volenti non fit injuria" applies in this case.
Eckert v. Long Island Railway Co
Negligence is a legal term for wrongdoing. In simple terms, it refers to
irresponsible behavior, resulting in lack of appropriate or reasonable care.
Citizens owe a duty of care to fellow citizens, breech of which leads to
legal damages to others which can be challenged in the court of law.
In this case negligence is:
"A failure to use reasonable care for the safety of those who were lawfully
using the highway in which this van with the two horses attached was left
unattended." -Greer, LJ
- Novus Actus Interveniens:
It refers to an intervening act between the first negligent act and the
final damage experienced by the plaintiff, which indicates that the legal
loss sustained by the plaintiff was substantially due to that intervening
activity that furthered the wrong of the defendant.
- Volenti Non Fit Injuria:
When a person places himself in a position where they might suffer harm,
they cannot bring the claim against another party in tort.
 it was held that the the above stated
doctrine does not apply where the plaintiff has knowingly and intentionally
faced a risk, to rescue another person from danger, injury or death, whether the
person who was in danger is someone to whom he owes a special duty of
protection, or someone to whom no such duty is owed.
The defendants are guilty of negligence because they left the horses unattended
on a busy Paradise street. As stated by the solicitor for the defendants, the
servant "knew the locality" which only strengthens the claim of negligence
because the street has various houses, schools and churches lined along its
side. And there were no safeguards in place to prevent the horses from bolting.
Since the servant appears to have taken no reasonable precautions to guarantee
that individuals who were lawfully using the street were not harmed, negligence
The involvement of boys who threw stone on horses led to the question of, novus
actus interveniens but Lynch v Nurdin, it was held that there was novus actus
interveniens because the boy's misconduct started the horse but it could be
treated as defendants wrong because it was anticipated that children would do
mischief. Any one gives them such opportunity can not escape from their
liability. Same was applied to this case and this defence was made inapplicable.
The defendant presented his case, since because the officer voluntarily engaged
in an act that would almost certainly result in harm, a claim was made that
volenti non fit injuria can be used to explain his position. The court decided
that the plaintiff being a police officer owed a duty of care to the public and
because of this, principle of volenti non fit injuria would not apply.
It was held that "Novus Actus Interveniens
" was not applicable in this
case and since it was apparent that horses were left standing, unwatched on a
busy street and were disturbed, any man with sense of risponsibility, especially
an on-duty police officer, would attempt to stop it and be injured in the
process, the opposition couldn't plead volenti non fit injuria because the
police officer's actions were part of his general obligation to the public.
Initial decision delivered by Finlay J. was upheld. In conclusion, the
defendants were held liable and the plaintiff was awarded compensatory damages.
- Eckert v. Long Island Railway Co, 43 N.Y. 502
- Lynch v Nurdin,  1 Q.B. 29
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