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Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works

Court of Exchequer
156 Eng. Rep. 1047 (Ex. 1856)


Facts

Birmingham Water Works (Birmingham) (defendant) owned a nonprofit waterworks. Birmingham was tasked with laying water mains and fire plugs in the city streets according to statutory specifications. On February 24, 1855, a fire plug laid by Birmingham broke and allowed water to escape into the home of Blyth (plaintiff). The fire plug had worked well for twenty-five years. On the evening of the accident, the city experienced a severe frost, and the fire plug itself was covered with ice. Blyth sued Birmingham for damages. At trial, the trial judge stated that if Birmingham had removed the ice from the plug, the accident would not have occurred. However, he permitted the jury to consider whether Birmingham had exercised the proper level of care to prevent the accident. The jury returned a verdict for Blyth, and Birmingham appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Alderson, B.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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