In re Arbitration Between Polemis and Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd.

Court of Appeal, [1921] 3 K.B. 560.

Prosser, pp. 295-296


Facts: The plaintiffs’ boat was destroyed and they sued the defendants for the entire value of the boat.  The defendants claimed that the damages were too remote to be foreseeable and thus that the defendants were not the proximate cause of the damages.  The arbitrators found that the plaintiff’s ship was destroyed by fire, that the fire was caused by a spark igniting gasoline vapor, and that in turn the spark was caused by a falling board.  The arbitrators found that damage of this magnitude was not reasonably foreseeable, though the falling board was the result of the defendants’ negligence and at least some damage was foreseeable.  The arbitrators awarded heavy damages to the plaintiffs.  The defendants appealed.




Rule: The defendants will only be held responsible for the proximate (i.e. not too remote) results of their negligence.


Analysis: The judges find that the damage was not too remote from the negligence to bar recovery by the plaintiff.




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