Powell v. Fall – Case Brief
Powell v. Fall, 5 QB 597 (1880).
Facts: While Powell (D) was driving his tractor on a highway, it emitted sparks which struck and ignited haystacks on Fall’s (P) land. Powell had not been traveling over the speed limit at the time and had not been negligent. The trial court followed the decision in Rylands v. Fletcher and stated “that when a man brings or uses a thing of a dangerous character on his own land, he must keep it in at his own peril and is liable to the consequences, if it escapes and does injury to his neighbor.” Powell appealed the trial court’s ruling in favor of Fall.
Issue: Is a party responsible for damages caused by his own dangerous acts if he committed no acts of negligence?
Holding and Rule: Yes. If one uses a dangerous machine, he is liable for any damages caused. The court held that even though a statute allowed D to operate his tractor on the highway he was still liable for the damage.
Disposition: Affirmed. Judgment for P.
Notes: This case demonstrates the English strict liability rule.