Torts I, Page 277–278

Reynolds v. Texas & Pac. Ry. Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, 1885

Facts:

Plaintiff's wife, a corpulent woman, was injured when she fell down a an unlit stairway without a handrail in defendant's station after she was warned to "hurry up."

Procedural History:

Trial court, without a jury, gave judgment to the plaintiffs for $2,000.

Issue:

Is the defendant liable if it is not known whether their negligence caused the accident?

Defendant's Argument:

Even though defendant was negligent in failing to light the stairway or provide a handrail, it doesn't follow that the accident was caused thereby.

Rule:

Where the negligence of the defendant greatly multiplies the chances of accident to the plaintiff and is of a character naturally leading to its occurrence, the mere possibility that it might have happened withotu the negligence is not sufficient to break the chain of cause and effect between the negligence and the injury.

Reasoning:

It's not known what would have happened if defendant wasn't negligent, but the court cannot consider in fanciful suppositions.

Holding:

Yes, the defendant is liable if they were negligent and can't prove it didn't cause accident. Affirmed.


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