Vincent v. Lake Erie Transportation Co. – Case Brief
Vincent v. Lake Erie Transportation Co., 109 Minn. 456, 124 N.W. 221 (Minn. 1910).
Facts: A steamship owned by Lake Erie Transportation Co. (D) was moored at Vincent’s (P) dock to unload cargo. A storm arose and the vessel was held secure to the dock causing $500 in damage to the dock. Vincent sued to recover damage to the dock and the jury decided in favor of Vincent. D appealed, alleging that it was not liable under the defense of private necessity.
Issue: Is a party acting under private necessity liable for resulting damage to the property of others?
Holding and Rule: Yes. The ship was secured to the dock deliberately to avoid damage to the ship resulting in damage to the dock. The court held that while D cannot be held liable for trespass due to private necessity, D used P’s property to preserve his own and D is therefore liable for resulting damages to P. If the boat had remained secured to the dock without further action by D, D would not have been liable. D was held liable because affirmative measures were taken to secure the boat.
Notes: This case is an example of private necessity which is an incomplete privilege. Public necessity is a complete privilege.