Torts I, Pages 426–428

Winterbottom v. Wright

Exchequer of Pleas, 1842

Facts:

Defendant, a mail coach manufacturer and repairer, contracted with the Postmaster General to keep the coaches in a safe and secure condition. Plaintiff was a mail coach driver injured with a coach broke down due to lack of repair.

Issue:

Did defendant owe a duty to plaintiff to upkeep the coach?

Rule:

A tort action based on an injury resulting from violation of a contract cannot be upheld if plaintiff was not a party to the contract.

Reasoning:

If a contract was not needed, too many people could potentially sue people like defendant. Defendant therefore owed no duty to plaintiff.

Holding:

Defendant owed plaintiff no duty to upkeep the coach. Judgment for the defendant.

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