Torts I

Spano v. Perini Corp.

Court of Appeals of New York, 1969

Facts:

The defendants were contracted to construct a tunnel for New York City. On the day in question, they set off 194 sticks of dynamite to do so at a construction site 125 feet from Spano's garage, which contained Davis's car. Both the garage and the car sustained major damage. No negligence in these blasts was shown.

Procedural History:

Defendant won initially.

Issue:

Can a person who has sustained property damage caused by blasting on nearby property maintain an action for damages without a showing that the blaster was negligent?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Defendant should be absolutely liable for any damage caused by their blasting.

Defendant's Argument:

Defendant should not be liable because no negligence or physical intrusion onto property has been committed, a standard set in Booth v. Rome.

Rule:

Someone who inflicts damage as a result of blasting should be liable for it.

Reasoning:

Defendants caused the damage and thus have more reason to be liable for it than the innocent defendants.

Holding:

Yes, Booth was wrong. Case remanded to confirm evidence of damages.

Takeaway:

Some acts come with strict liability for resulting harms.

Note:

Even with absolute liability, you still have to prove causation.

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