Heading: Adams v. Bullock, 227 N.Y. 208, 125 N.E. 93, Court of Appeals of NY (1919) p31.
Facts: A 12 year old boy was shocked and electrocuted from swinging a wire that accidentally came in contact with the wires of an overhead electrical trolley system.
Procedure: none mentioned
Issue: Is Bullock negligent for failing to prevent an accidents from occurring involving its overhead electrical trolley wires?
Rule: When reasonable care and precautions are used, companies cannot be found negligent for accidents that occur in which ordinary caution could have no way predicted.
Holding: Bullock cannot be found negligent because this is an accident in which no amount of vigilance could have predicted.
Rationale: D took all steps that can be reasonably expected in order to ensure the safety of his system. There was no way of predicting a freak accident such as this and no accident like this had occurred before. The trolley car was a legal, socially desirable business.
Policy/Notes: cited Braun v. Buffalo, 200 N.Y. 486. In this case D had strung exposed electrical wires 25 feet above a vacant lot in busy section of a large city. Fifteen years later a building was being constructed and when the joists reached 20 feet a carpenter picked up the wires in order to step over them and was electrocuted in doing so. The court held that D should have foreseen the possibility of a building being built there and therefore should have taken precautions to ensure the safety of the wires. Although there was no action in the lot when the wires were strung there, D should have kept an eye on changes occurring there.