Recovery is properly denied in a case if the injuries to the plaintiffs are too "remote" or "indirect" a consequence of the defendants' negligence. Numerous principles have been suggested to determine the point at which a defendant should no longer be held legally responsible for damage caused "in fact" by his negligence. Except only the defendant's intention to produce a given result, no other consideration so affects a court's feeling that it is or is not just to hold him for the result so much as its foreseeability.
Several grain companies sued a city and another grain company, in a negligence action to recover damages suffered as a result of a river accident involving several boats, one of which crashed into a city bridge, causing it to collapse, forming a dam and a two mile long ice jam. This accident made it impossible for the grain companies to unload grain stored in vessels berthed beneath the bridge. In a different action, the same defendant city and grain company were determined to have been negligent. The court, however, granted a judgment in their favor under a negligent interference with contract analysis.
Were grain companies entitled to damages where a collision with a bridge prevented unloading of their silos?
The court affirmed the judgment, basing its decision on a simple negligence analysis. The court held that, although disruption of river traffic and the consequent damages suffered by city and another grain company was probably foreseeable, the connection between the city and grain company's negligence and the grain companies' damages was too tenuous and remote to permit recovery, regardless of whether the term "duty," "proximate cause," or "foreseeability" was used.