Brower v. New York Central & H.R.R. – Case Brief
Brower v. New York Central & H.R.R., 91 N.J.L. 190, 103 A. 166 (N.J. 1918).
Facts: New York Central & H.R.R.’s (D) train hit Brower’s (P) wagon and harness. The accident killed P’s horse, destroyed his wagon, and spilled P’s goods onto the road. Third parties stole Brower’s goods while he was still disoriented from the collision. Brower sued New York Central for damages including recovery for the stolen goods. D denied liability for the stolen goods, asserting that third party intervention broke the chain of causation. The trial court ruled for P and D appealed.
Issue: Under what circumstances is a negligent party liable for the intervening acts of third parties?
Holding and Rule (Swayze): A negligent party is liable for the intervening acts of third parties if those acts should have been reasonably foreseen.
The railroad usually had two detectives guarding its train. D clearly realized that theft was a foreseeable and probable event. The court held that the stealing was a direct result of D’s negligence. The act of a third party will not affect the original negligence of the first wrongdoer if the act should have been foreseen by D.
Disposition: Affirmed, for P.
Dissent (Garrison, J.): There must be unbroken continuity for an act to be the proximate cause.