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Grace & Co. v. City of Los Angeles

United States District Court for the Southern District of California
168 F. Supp. 344 (1958)


The City of Los Angeles (city) (defendant) owned and operated a storage shed on the Los Angeles Harbor. Grace & Company (Grace & Co.) (plaintiff) owned 1,960 bags of coffee that had been unloaded from ships and stored temporarily in the city’s shed. A cast-iron water pipeline leading into the shed burst, flooding the shed and damaging Grace & Co.’s coffee. The pipeline had been installed by the city 40 years earlier and had not at any point since been inspected or maintained. At the time that the pipeline was installed, the city used the best-available pipe. In subsequent years, the city found that the harbor’s soil was highly corrosive. The cast-iron pipes deteriorated as a result and eventually gave way where the corrosion had occurred. Even after corrosion was known to be compromising the city’s cast-iron pipes, the city’s policy was to hold off on repairing or replacing cast-iron pipes until they burst. Grace & Co. sued the city for negligence, arguing the city did not exercise due care because it never, in 40 years, inspected a pipeline that it should have known was corroded and weak.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Westover, J.)

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