Where the negligence of a defendant greatly multiplies the chances of an accident to a plaintiff and is of a character naturally leading to its occurrence, the mere possibility that it might have happened without the negligence is not sufficient to break the chain of cause and effect between the negligence and the injury. Courts, in such matters, consider the natural and ordinary course of events and do not indulge in fanciful suppositions.
Plaintiffs and others purchased tickets to board the carrier's eastbound passenger train, at a depot at a certain station, at about midnight. When the train arrived at the station, it was behind time, and passengers were allegedly warned to "hurry up." As the passenger hastened down the unlighted steps, which ran paralleled to the track, from the depot to the cars, she made a misstep and was precipitated beyond the narrow platform in front and down the slope beyond. They sued for damages against the defendant.
Whether the mere possibility that the injury would have resulted even without the negligence relieves the tortfeasor from liability
On appeal, the court found: (1) there was no sufficient light on the steps, and such absence rendered the passage from the depot to the train insecure and constituted negligence on the carrier's part and a failure to perform its duty of providing safe modes of ingress and egress between its depots and its trains; (2) because the carrier's negligence greatly multiplied the chances of the passenger's accident, the mere possibility that the passenger might have made a misstep and fallen even in broad daylight, was insufficient to break the chain of cause and effect between the carrier's negligence and the passenger's injury; and (3) hence, the evidence connected the accident with the negligence.