Rylands v. Fletcher


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Rylands v. Fletcher

A very famous case that should be known and understood by all real estate developers.It was the precursor of the doctrine that a property owner is strictly liable for all damages caused by abnormally dangerous things and activities on his or her land,without any need to show negligence, contractual responsibility, or any neglect or omission at all. In this 1865 English case, Rylands was building a pond to supply water for his mill.During excavation,his engineers discovered five abandoned and filled mine shafts in the bed of the pond site.They seemed unimportant.Upon completion of the pond, the shafts started filling in with water. Shortly afterward the water burst through the abandoned shafts and traveled underground until it flooded Fletcher's mines.Fletcher sued,but Rylands defended by saying he had done nothing wrong,that it was a freak accident,and, anyway,it was all the engineers'fault for not investigating further.The court held Rylands liable,stating that if one brings upon his land something that will cause injury if it escapes, then he is strictly liable for the consequences if it does escape.

References in periodicals archive ?
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that Rylands v.
Just two months after the Johnstown Flood, a note in the American Law Review discussed the horrors of the Johnstown Flood, and then focused on the courts' tendency to abuse fault rules and on the superiority of Rylands v.
Simpson, Legal Liability for Bursting Reservoirs: The Historical Context of Rylands v.
This Note's criterion for acceptance is slightly stricter than William Prosser's implicit standard in The Principle of Rylands v.
For in-depth, insightful discussions of Holmes and his ideas about Rylands and liability in general, see DAVID ROSENBERG, HIDDEN HOLMES (1995); and Clare Dalton, Losing History: Tort Liability in the Nineteenth Century and the Case of Rylands v.
As an example of when the rule applies, the court in the Rylands v.