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Exner v. Sherman Power Construction Company

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
54 F.2d 510 (1931)


Facts

Sherman Power Construction Company (Sherman) (defendant) stored over 1,000 pounds of dynamite in a hut. Sherman regularly used the explosive in its work on a hydroelectric development. The storage hut was located close to an inhabited part of a neighboring town that included houses, factories, and businesses. A state law required the explosives to be kept within 50 rods (one rod equals 5.5 yards) of an inhabited building. However, many inhabited dwellings were within the 50-rod radius. One afternoon, the hut full of dynamite exploded, killing three Sherman workers and knocking Delia Exner (plaintiff) out of bed in her home 935 feet away. Exner suffered injuries as a result. The blast also seriously damaged Exner’s dwelling, in which she and her husband Frederick (plaintiff) rented rooms and apartments, and operated a restaurant. The Exners filed suit against Sherman seeking personal-injury and property damages. At trial, Sherman’s president testified that there was no other reasonable place to store the dynamite, other than the hut, that would comply with the state law and not pose additional risk of harm to citizens. Further, Sherman’s president testified that the state’s deputy fire marshal consented to the storage hut’s placement. The trial court found for the Exners. Sherman appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hand, J.)

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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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