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Powell v. Fall

Queen’s Bench
5 Q.B. 597 (1880)


Facts

Powell (plaintiff) owned a field of hay near a public highway upon which Fall (defendant) was driving his steam-powered locomotive. Fall’s operation of the locomotive, as well as the locomotive’s construction itself, was in compliance with applicable statutes governing locomotive use. In the course of driving on the highway, however, sparks flew from the locomotive’s engine and caused a fire in Powell’s field. Powell sued Fall for damage from the fire. Powell argued that nothing in the governing statutes precluded Fall from being held strictly liable for damage caused. Fall defended on the ground that he could not be held liable without proof that he acted negligently. The lower court held for Powell, and Fall appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bramwell, L.J.)

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