Created by Javier Cervantes on April 09, 2016 1274
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The plaintiff appeals the lower court's decision of non-suit (dismissal), in the Court of Exchequer (England), 1863. The plaintiff was walking on a public street alongside a warehouse owned and operated by the defendant for the storage of barrels of flour. A barrel of flour fell from a window of the warehouse and struck the plaintiff, causing serious injury. A witness testified to seeing the barrel strike the plaintiff, though didn't see from where it came or notice any ropes. The plaintiff's claim of negligence was dismissed.
On review, the court found this to be a situation where "the mere fact of the accident having occurred is evidence of negligence."
- Res Ipsa Loquitur (the things speaks for itself) --> presumption of negligence arises from the fact of an accident.
The court states that it is the duty of the owner of the barrels to take care they are safely stored, that only through some sort of negligence could they roll out of the window. The barrel falling from the window infers negligence.
Without implementation of this doctrine, the plaintiff would have a problem proving the necessary elements of negligence to bring a claim. In this case, Res Ipsa Loquitur affords the plaintiff prima facie evidence of negligence.
As the plaintiff has made a prima facie showing of negligence through he doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur, it is the defendant's responsibility to prove facts inconsistent with negligence.
The decision below is reversed.