Southwick v. S. S. Mullen, Inc.

Decision Date29 September 1967
Docket NumberNo. 10797,10797
Citation432 P.2d 56,19 Utah 2d 430
Partiesd 430 Duane SOUTHWICK, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. S. S. MULLEN, INC., a Washington corporation, Defendant and Respondent.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

John L. Black, Salt Lake City, for appellant.

Reed L. Martineau, Skeen, Worsley, Snow & Christensen, Salt Lake City, for respondent.

TUCKETT, Justice:

This is an action brought by the plaintiff for personal injuries which he sustained while viewing the demolition of a bridge by the defendant in connection with a road construction project. The case was tried by the court with a jury and from an adverse verdict and judgment the plaintiff appeals to this court.

At the time of the plaintiff's injuries the defendant was engaged in a road construction project at the mouth of Parley's Canyon which is located a few miles east of Salt Lake City. As a part of the project it was necessary that the defendant demolish the Stillman Bridge which crossed the canyon near the mouth of the canyon. The defendant had prepared to destroy the bridge by the use of explosives. Prior to firing the charges placed in abutments of the bridge, the newspapers, television, and radio stations were notified of the event. The plaintiff, who was a cameraman for a television station, went to the scene of the demolition for the purpose of photographing the same. Prior to the plaintiff's arrival at the scene, the defendant's foreman in charge of the blasting had briefed other newsmen and cameramen as to the procedures to be used in firing explosive charges placed in the bridge abutments. The plaintiff arrived too late for that briefing but he did talk with other newsmen at the scene who had selected a spot approximately 400 yards west of the bridge and within the canyon. After some conversation with the other newsmen the plaintiff decided to set up his equipment at that spot and to take the pictures of the blast. There was some conflict in the evidence as to what was said between the defendant's foreman and the two newsmen who had arrived prior to the plaintiff. The defendant's foreman testified that he had warned the newsmen that the place they had selected might be exposed to some danger and that they should accompany him to another location where he was going to observe the blast. There was some testimony to the effect that the foreman told the newsmen they would probably be safe if they remained behind their vehicles.

The plaintiff, prior to the explosion, had rested his camera on a portion of one of the vehicles in the area and he and the other newsmen were trying to determine when the shots would be fired by looking and listening for a signal. The blast came unexpectedly as the plaintiff and other newsmen failed to see or hear the signal given by defendant's foreman to the man who was in charge of detonating the explosives. At the time of the blast a portion of the debris from the bridge was propelled to the area where the plaintiff was situated. A fragment struck the plaintiff on the wrist resulting in the injuries complained of.

The plaintiff claims that the court erred in submitting the case to the jury on the issues of negligence on the part of the defendant and contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff. At the conclusion of the evidence the plaintiff moved the court for a directed verdict on the issue of liability and further that the issue of defendant's liability be submitted to the jury on the basis of liability without fault which is sometimes referred to in the cases as strict liability or as absolute liability. The court instructed the jury on the issues of the defendant's strict liability and also on the basis of negligence. The defendant's...

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1 cases
  • Pratt v. Hercules, Inc., C 80-0582A.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Utah
    • May 4, 1982
    ...has never allowed for recovery when plaintiffs' injuries are not subsequent to an explosion of some kind. See Southwick v. S.S. Mullen, Inc., 19 Utah 2d 430, 432 P.2d 56 (1967); Robinson v. Robinson, 16 Utah 2d 2, 394 P.2d 876 (1964); Matievitch v. Hercules Powder Co., 3 Utah 2d 283, 282 P.......

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