Fabronis v. Marradi Ball Players

Gino Gorla, A Decision of the Rota Fiorentina of 1780 on Liability for Damages Caused by the “Ball Game,” 49 Tulane Law Rev. 346-55 (1975)

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Fabronis v. Marradi Ball Players

Rota Fiorentina
Gino Gorla, A Decision of the Rota Fiorentina of 1780 on Liability for Damages Caused by the “Ball Game,” 49 Tulane Law Rev. 346-55 (1975)

Facts

In Tuscany, the town of Marradi held an annual ball game in the public square as entertainment and part of a feast. The homeowners of properties around the square never objected to the event, even though the event could damage their properties. Each year, the homeowners were notified of the date of the game well in advance by the teams (defendants) so that the homeowners could take steps to protect their properties. In 1778, the Fabroni family (Fabronis) (plaintiffs), who had recently purchased a home in the square and conducted an extensive restoration project, objected to the game. The Fabronis sought an injunction from the seven-member community magistrate to halt the event or to require the teams to promise to pay all damages suffered by a homeowner. The community magistrate determined that no adequate alternative site was available for the game and allowed the game to proceed. The community magistrate left the question of damages to when the issue became ripe. The Fabronis did not appeal the decision but later filed an action seeking compensation for damage to their property caused by the game. The team asserted that the Fabronis’ failure to remove sand and lime left on the ground from the home-restoration project and take preventive measures contributed to the Fabronis’ claimed loss. The community magistrate awarded damages to the Fabronis for damage to windows and shutters as well as the soiled façade caused by being struck by a sand-and-lime-covered ball. The teams appealed, and the Vicario upheld the compensation for the window and shutter damage but rejected the damage caused by the muddied ball. Both parties appealed to the magistrato supremo (supreme magistrate) in Florence. The Rota Fiorentina, the highest court in the Tuscan Grandduchy, decided the appeal on a commission from the magistrato supremo.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Vernaccini, J.)

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