Longmeid v. Holliday

155 E.R. 72 (1851)

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Longmeid v. Holliday

England and Wales Court of Exchequer
155 E.R. 72 (1851)

Facts

Holliday (defendant) owned a lamp shop. Frederick Longmeid (plaintiff) purchased one of Holliday’s lamps for he and his wife, Eliza (plaintiff), to use in their shop. When Eliza lighted the lamp in the Longmeids’ shop, the lamp exploded and severely burned her. The Longmeids sued Holliday to recover for Eliza’s injuries, asserting that Holliday had fraudulently warranted that the lamp was reasonably fit and proper to be used in the Longmeids’ shop, when in actuality the lamp was unfit and dangerous. At trial, the jury received evidence that the lamp purchased by Frederick was defectively constructed. However, the jury found that Holliday had sold the lamp in good faith, had not known about the defective construction, and had not made any fraudulent representations about the lamp. Holliday’s counsel asserted that because the Longmeids had not proven fraud, they could not maintain their action. However, the trial judge directed a verdict to be entered for the Longmeids and reserved to Holliday the right to move for a nonsuit. Holliday’s counsel subsequently obtained a rule nisi (i.e., an order to show cause) why a nonsuit should not be entered. The Longmeids’ counsel asserted that a nonsuit was inappropriate, claiming that shopkeepers who sell products that are or may become dangerous owe a duty of care to ensure that the products are proper for use, and that a breach of that duty renders the shopkeeper liable to anyone injured by the product. In arguing for the nonsuit, Holliday’s counsel asserted that in the absence of fraud, any action against a shopkeeper for injuries caused by a defective product must be based on a breach of the contract between the shopkeeper and the purchaser, and the shopkeeper has no liability to anyone other than the purchaser. Thus, according to Holliday’s counsel, Holliday had no liability to Eliza because he sold the lamp to Frederick.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Parke, J.)

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