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Facts[]

Smith's husband worked in a factory owned by Leech Brain galvanizing steel. He had previously worked in the gas industry, making him prone to cancer. One day at work he came out from behind his protective shield when working and was struck in the lip by molten metal. The burn was treated, but he eventually developed cancer and died three years later. The protection provided to employees during their work was very shoddy.

Issue[]

  1. Which test applies – Polemis or Wagon Mound?
  2. Does the man’s special sensitivity matter?

Decision[]

Judgment for the plaintiff.

Reasons[]

Parker does not think that the decision in Wagon Mound is relevant to this case. He states that the "thin skull" rule differentiates the two cases, and that this is a case of "taking your plaintiffs as they come" rather than insufficient proximity. Therefore, as it is found that the burn was a negligent action on the part of Leech Brain as they did not provide ample safety, and it at least partially led to the development of the cancer, the defendants are liable.

Ratio[]

  • The ruling in Wagon Mound does not apply to cases where the outcome was unforeseeable to a particular plaintiff because of a condition that he or she had; rather it is used in situations when the foreseeable connection between the action and the outcome is unreasonable.
  • For actions in tort, you take a plaintiff as he or she comes - the fact that they have a condition that led to more damages than normal is not a factor in determining damages (the "thin skull" rule).
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