United States v. Carroll Towing Co.
2nd Cir COA - 1947
- D was in charge of handling the mooring lines for a barge operated by the P.
- D did so negligently and the barge broke free from the pier and ran into another ship. The ship's propeller made a hole in the barge, and it sank.
- P sued D for negligence. D claimed that P was required to have a bargee on board at the time and that if there had been one on board, the damages could have been minimized.
- Trial court found for P but found D's argument compelling, divided the damages.
- 2nd Cir COA affirmed, divided the damages.
- Can a person be liable for failing to take a reasonable precaution against great risk of injury even where the probability of the injury occurring is very small?
- A person may be liable for failing to take reasonable precaution against great risk of injury even when the probability of the injury occurring is very small.
- There are three variables to consider when looking at precaution against risk: the probability of the harm, the seriousness of the injury if the harm occurs, and the cost of the adequate precaution.
- If the burden is less than the probability x the liability, then the person not exercising care is liable.
- The bargee was absent without an excuse for 21 hours. The bargee knew the damage could be great if the barge broke away from the pier.
- Thus, the P is partial liable for not exercising precaution.
- B < P * L, then liable.
- This is similar to an economic cost-benefit analysis.