Torts II, Pages 760–761

Golden v. Armory

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1952

Facts:

Defendants owned a hydroelectric plant which overflowed and damaged plaintiffs real estate as a result of a hurricane.

Procedural History:

Trial judge directed a verdict for defendants concerning whether they had a permit for the dike. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, but the judge entered a verdict for defendants.

Issue:

Are defendants strictly liable for their dike flooding?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Reasoning:

The Rylands rule does not apply to acts of God which the owner had no reason to anticipate, which the hurricane was.

Holding:

No, strict liability does not apply. Affirmed.

Takeaway:

There is no strict liability for an unforeseeable act of God.


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