Goar v. Stephen

157 Minn. 228, 196 N.W. 171 (1923)

 

RULE:

Action, where legal duty requires no action, is no worse than inaction where legal duty requires action. There is no difference in law or morals between the effects attending the two. Negligence more frequently accompanies omission than commission; but, whatever its cause, its legal consequences are the same.

FACTS:

The company installed high-tension electrical equipment for the village, which maintained its own electric plant. Thereafter, insulation on a transformer pole wore away, causing a high voltage current to shock plaintiff. Consequently, plaintiff brought a negligence action against the company and the village, and the trial court found for plaintiff. Accordingly, review was sought, and the court affirmed the judgment against the village but reversed the judgment against the company. The court held the company had a right to rely upon the village assuming, upon its acceptance of the work, the duty of inspection and maintenance. The court also held the company had been deprived of the opportunity to protect the property from deterioration and itself from liability.

ISSUE:

Is it negligence to drop a primary wire from a higher to a lower cross arm through or so close to service lines, when, at an expense so small as to be negligible, the "jumper" wires can be carried through conduits attached to the poles?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

It does not follow that the company is liable, even though it was negligent in the manner indicated. That initial negligence was followed by the serious and wrongful inaction of the village. Before the verdict against the company can be sustained, we must resolve against it the question as to whether the negligence of the village was a new agency serving causal connection between the company's negligence and plaintiff's hurt, or whether, on the other hand, such negligence simply concurred with that of the company so as to charge both defendants.

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