It is a well-settled rule of law that requires each person to use such care for the safety and well-being of others in and about the keeping of his property as an ordinarily prudent person would have used under all the facts and circumstances of the case, and the failure to use such care is negligence, and he who does, or permits, a wrongful act is liable for the consequences which ensue in the ordinary and natural course of events, although such consequences be immediately and directly brought about by intervening causes, if such intervening causes were set in motion by the first or original wrongdoer. However, if an independent force or agency intervenes, this will break the causal connection, unless under all the circumstances of the case this intervention itself is a concurrent cause, or is not the primary or proximate cause of the injury, and could not have been anticipated or foreseen. This is axiomatic.
The company excavated certain land to extend its line. Large quantities of blasting powder and dynamite were used in the excavation. The company's employee threw aside the empty blasting powder cans. Powder remained in the cans. The powder was secretly collected over a period of time by the minor's friend, a 14-year-old boy. During the minor's visit with the friend, the two retrieved the hidden collection of powder. The boys lit the powder, which exploded, seriously and permanently injuring the minor. The minor sought damages from the company. The minor alleged that the company's negligence in carelessly discarding the cans was the proximate cause of his injury. The trial court sustained the company's motion for a peremptory instruction in its behalf. The minor sought review after he was denied a new trial.
Should the company be held liable for the minor's injuries?
The court determined that any negligence by the company in discarding small amounts of powder in the cans was not of such degree of character as to have been the proximate cause of the injury. The chain of events was so broken that they became independent and were not the natural and probable results of the company's primary negligence in discarding the cans.