Law School Case Brief
Madsen v. E. Jordan Irr. Co. - 101 Utah 552, 125 P.2d 794 (Sup.Ct. 1942)
The rule of absolute liability prevails when one uses explosives and the blasting of said explosives results in hurling of rock, earth or debris which causes injury to another.
Plaintiff Edgar R. Madsen owned the Madsen Mink Farm in Sandy, Utah, where he bred and raised mink for sale. The farm was located 100 yards north of an irrigation canal owned by defendant East Jordan Irrigation Company ("East Jordan"). On May 5, 1941, East Jordan, in the course of repairing its canal, blasted it with explosives, which, Madsen alleged, caused vibrations and noises that frightened the mother mink and caused 108 of them to kill 230 of their offspring. Madsen filed a lawsuit against East Jordan in Utah state court seeking to recover $ 5,750 in damages. East Jordan filed a general demurrer to Madsen's amended complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer and gave Madsen five days in which to amend his complaint. Judgment was entered for East Jordan when Madsen failed to amend his complaint. Madsen then appealed.
Did complaint fail to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action in trespass?
The state supreme court affirmed the trial court's judgment. The court recognized that the rule of absolute liability prevailed when one used explosives and the blasting of said explosives resulted in hurling of rock, earth, or debris, which caused injury to another. The court held, however, that the instant case presented the additional element of whether the mother minks' independent acts broke the chain of causation. The court held, therefore, that Madsen was required to make an allegation of negligence, which he failed to do.
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