Howard v Bergin, O'Connor & Company

Court:Supreme Court
Docket Number:(1924. No. 7802.)
Judgment Date:24 Nov 1925
S. C.
Bergin, O'Conner & Co

Escaped bullock - Terrified when being unloaded from a train - Running unattended through the streets of city - Injury to person walking along street - Mischievous propensity - Scienter - Novus actus interveniens - Servant obtaining assistance - Scope of authority.

Defendants purchased cattle in the country, and sent them by train to Dublin. A special place for the unloading of cattle was provided at the railway terminus, surrounded with strong wooden fences to prevent the cattle escaping when being unloaded. The cattle were not unloaded at this place, but at the end of the passenger platform, where there are no cattle pens. This place is surrounded by a wall, and has a gate opening on to the public road. Defendants' foreman cattle drover and another of their drovers unloaded the cattle, but neither of them closed the gate leading to the public road. Defendants' foreman admitted that cattle were liable to take fright when they were being unloaded, and that precautions were necessary. During the unloading two bullocks "got wild" on the platform, rushed upon the adjoining ground, were driven back, escaped through the gate, and ran through the streets of the city. While driving the rest of the cattle to defendants' premises, the foreman drover met H., another drover, whom he knew, and asked him to go in search of the two missing bullocks. Having found them in a yard off a lane, H. left them there and returned and informed the defendants' foreman, who sent H. and one of the defendants' drovers to bring back the two bullocks. Meantime the bullocks, having entered the yard, did damage; and the owner of the yard drove them out to save his goods from destruction. Continuing to run through the streets, one of these bullocks knocked down and injured the plaintiff, who sued the defendants for damages for the personal injuries caused by the negligence of the defendants' servants. At the trial of the action the jury found that at the time of the occurrence the bullock that injured the plaintiff was in the public street unattended by any servant of the defendants; that the defendants' men did not take proper precautions at the unloading of the cattle to prevent them escaping on to the public street, inasmuch as the cattle should have been unloaded at the proper unloading place; that the defendants' servants were not guilty of negligence in not following the two bullocks and getting them under proper control, but that if H....

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