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Robert Addie & Sons (Collieries), Ltd. v. Dumbreck

House of Lords
[1929] A.C. 358


Facts

Robert Addie & Sons (Collieries), Ltd. (colliery) (defendant) operated a system for hauling out coal ashes from coal mines. The system consisted of an endless wire cable stretching across a field and passing around a large wheel at one end of the field. The wheel was blocked from view only by a few boards. The field itself was surrounded by a hedge containing a number of gaps. These gaps were incapable of keeping children out of the field and away from the wheel. Many children played in the field and many people used the field as a shortcut. Additionally, the colliery wheel was very attractive to children. On several occasions, employees of the colliery warned children about staying away from the wheel. However, their warnings had little to no effect. Several colliery employees watched the field to keep out trespassers, and the field was flanked by two gates warning trespassers to keep out. Dumbreck (plaintiff) had a four-year-old son. He warned his son to stay away from the field and the wheel. However, one day the son was playing on or near the wheel, and was drawn into it when the mechanism was activated by the colliery. Dumbreck’s son was killed. Dumbreck brought suit against the colliery for negligence. The trial court awarded damages to Dumbreck on the ground that the colliery did not take adequate precautions to avoid accidents to people using the field before activating the hauling system. The colliery appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Hailsham, L.C.)

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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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