Adams v. Bullock

227 N.Y. 208, 125 N.E. 93, 1919 N.Y. LEXIS 670



Reasonable care in the use of a destructive agency imports a high degree of vigilance.


A 12 year old boy, while crossing the bridge, swung an eight food long wire over the edge of a bridge striking the wires of a trolley line that ran below the bridge and above the train tracks. No one could reach the wires by bending over the bridge or the parapet. By this contact the boy was shocked and burned. In an action for damages against the trolley line, the court ruled in the boy's favor. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.


Is the boy entitled to damages?




The Court held that the trolley line not liable in absence of any evidence that reasonable precautions had not been taken against injury from trolley wire. The court concluded that only an extraordinary casualty could make the wires dangerous. It also held that the railroad did not have the power or duty to avert the possibility of the accident because there was no special danger at the bridge that warned the railroad of the necessity of special precaution, and the wires could not be insulated.

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