Brown v. Collins – Case Brief
Brown v. Collins, 53 N.H. 442 (1873).
Facts: Collins’ (D) horses became frightened and escaped causing damage to Brown’s (P) land. Collins did not act out of malice and was not unreasonably negligent.
Issue: Is a landowner liable for damages caused by something escaping from his land where he has not acted intentionally or negligently?
Holding and Rule: No. The court held that imposing liability for natural consequences arising from the escape of anything brought on land would hinder progress and improvement. Anything brought onto one’s property is capable of escape and it is unreasonable to expect the landowner to be responsible for everything.
Disposition: Judgment for D.
Notes: The rule established by this case repudiated the rule of strict liability established in Rylands v. Fletcher. The majority rule in the United States is that a landowner is not liable unless he has acted with intent or negligence.