Watt v. Nevada Central R.R.

23 Nev. 154, 44 P. 423 (1896).

Dawson, p. 40-41


Facts: The defendant’s locomotive set fire to the plaintiff’s hay stack and hay press.  The plaintiff sued for the market value of the hay destroyed, even though he only needed the hay for cattle feed in case of a severe winter.  The trial court awarded damages to the plaintiff equal to the market value of the hay.  The defendant appealed.


Issue: To what damages is the plaintiff entitled if he had no plans to replace the goods that were destroyed?


Rule: The plaintiff shall not be placed into a better position than if the negligence had not occurred.


Analysis: The court reasons that since the hay had no use as feed, it was unsure whether or not it had any future use.  Therefore, there’s no way to calculate the damages due for that hay.  It is deemed important that the plaintiff did not avail himself of the opportunity to purchase hay in Austin, Nevada to replace the hay destroyed.


Conclusion: The appellate court reduced the damages to the difference between the total market value of the hay and the total baling and transportation costs, plus the cost of replacing the hay press that was destroyed.


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