Vincent v. Lake Erie Transportation Co. Case Brief

Summary of Vincent v. Lake Erie Transportation Co., S. Ct. Minnesota, 1910

Facts: A Noreaster approached late at night while df was unloading her cargo moored in Duluth. The storm grew more intense as the unloading continued. Navigation was suspended until the morning of the 29th (two days) . The df requested a tow into the harbor but none could be found b/c of the storm. The df retained the mooring lines throughout the storm cycle. The df’s ship was thrust against the dock causing damage.

Issue: Whether the destruction to the dock belonging to the PL was caused by the acts of the DF or by an act of God?

Holding: Defendant

Procedure: Jury trial returned a verdict for PL (Vincent) totaling $500. Affirmed.

Rule: The direct intervention of some act by the one sought to be held liable, against the property of another which causes an injury that person is liable. Without that intervention and with some act of God, that injury is attributed the person is not liable.

Ct. Rationale: The infliction of the injury was a result of the Df’s actions. Those in charge of the vessel deliberately and by their direct efforts held her in such a position that the damage to the dock resulted, and having thus preserved the ship at the expense of the dock, it seems to us that her owners are responsible to the dock owners to the extent of the injury inflicted.

PL A: Df directed the lines to remain so that the ship was fixed in a position resulting in damage.

Def A: Out of necessity of prudence and good seamanship under conditions over which it had no control, liability cannot ensue.

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