The question how far a defendant is liable in tort for the unintended consequences of his wrongful act, generally supposed to have been settled for England by the case of In re Polemis and Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd., has recently been reopened by the House of Lords decision in the case of Liesbosch Dredger v. S. S. Edison. Defendants, owners of the Edison, negligently sank the plaintiffs' dredger Liesbosch while the latter was being used by the plaintiffs in performance of a profitable contract to construct a harbor at Patras, Greece. There was evidence that, had the plaintiffs had the necessary capital at their disposal, they could have purchased another dredger in Holland. Unfortunately all of plaintiffs' resources were tied up, and to continue work on the contract, which contained severe penalty clauses for failure to complete performance within a specified time, plaintiffs entered into negotiations to hire another dredger. Several months elapsed, during which all work on the harbor had to be suspended, before they succeeded in hiring the Adria, a somewhat larger dredger, at an admittedly high rate of hire. After operating the Adria for a year, the plaintiffs found the cost of hire so burdensome that they prevailed upon the Patras harbor authorities to purchase the Adria for cash and resell her to them on the installment plan.
George C. Tilley,
THE ENGLISH RULE AS TO LIABILITY FOR UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol33/iss6/2