Torts I, Pages 129–130

Vincent v. Lake Erie Transp. Co.

Supreme Court of Minnesota, 1910

Facts:

Defendant's steamship was moored to plaintiffs' dock in Duluth to unload its cargo. While it was being unloaded, a storm developed and the winds reached 50 miles per hour, increasing during the night. The unloading finished, but no ships could safely enter or leave the dock because of the storm. Therefore, plaintiffs kept the ship tied to the dock so it would not float away. The winds caused the ship to repeatedly bash into the dock, causing $500 of damage.

Procedural History:

Trial court verdict for plaintiffs.

Issue:

Is plaintiff liable for damage caused by leaving a ship moored during a storm?

Reasoning:

Leaving the ship attached was the prudent thing to do, but plaintiffs' doing so did cause defendant's damage. Plaintiff had the option to release the ship, so it was not unavoidable. It was prudent and justifiable, but that doesn't mean defendant shouldn't be compensated for his loss.

Rule/Holding:

Yes, plaintiff is liable for damage he does to defendant by leaving his ship moored during a storm.

Judgment:

Order affirmed.


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