Clark-Aiken Co. v. Cromwell-Wright Co.

323 N.E.2d 876



A person who carries on an abnormally dangerous activity is subject to liability for harm resulting from the activity, regardless of the care exercised to prevent the harm. The factors used in determining whether an activity is "abnormally dangerous are: (1) whether the activity involves a high degree of risk of harm to the person, land, or property of others; (2) whether the gravity of resulting harm might be high; (3) whether the risk of harm can be eliminated with reasonable care; (4) whether the activity is a matter of common practice; (5) whether the activity is appropriate to the place where it is being carried on; and (6) the value of the activity to the community.


Plaintiff sued defendant, and asserted claims of negligence and strict liability when water stored behind a dam on defendant's property was released and flooded plaintiff's property. The trial court held that in order to recover damages by the release of water, plaintiff had to prove that the release was caused by intentional or negligent fault of the defendant. Because plaintiff offered no such evidence, the trial court dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal.


Whether plaintiff's claim for strict liability set out a justiciable claim in MA?


Yes, plaintiff's claim for strict liability set out a justiciable claim in MA.


In reversing the lower court's dismissal, the appellate court held that the strict liability claim could be construed as setting forth sufficient facts to support all the elements of the plaintiff's claim for strict liability for an abnormally dangerous activity. Further, the court found that the defendant carried on the challenged activity for its own benefit, that the activity was dangerous and created a risk of harm to the plaintiff, that the danger ensued, and that the plaintiff was damaged.

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