Derdiarian v. Felix Contracting Corp.

Court of Appeals of New York, 1980.

51 N.Y.2d 308, 414 N.E.2d 666, 434 N.Y.S.2d 166.

Prosser, pp. 320-322


Facts: Dickens lost consciousness while driving and hit the plaintiff, a subcontractor at a construction site.  The plaintiff sued Dickens and the construction company, the latter on the theory that they negligently failed to maintain a safe work site.  The plaintiff prevailed at trial.  The defendant appealed, claiming that the accident was unforeseeable and thus that they should bear no liability.


Issue: Was the conduct of the construction company the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm?


Rule: The defendant will not be held liable if the intervening act of the third party is not a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence.


Analysis: The court finds that it is not unforeseeable that negligently failing to secure a work site near a road might result in a driver entering the site and hurting someone.  The court says that the question was properly left up to a jury.


Conclusion: The judgment of the lower court is affirmed.


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