The Bradfords were at a restaurant owned by Kanellos when a fire broke out on the cooking grill. A fire extinguisher was used, which completely put out the fire and no one was injured. However, the extinguisher made a noise that caused one of the patrons in the restaurant to shout out that there was a gas leak and that there was going to be an explosion. Chaos ensued, and the Bradfords were injured in the havoc and sued for damages. The Bradfords were successful at trial, but this was overturned on appeal.
- Was the outcome reasonably foreseeable?
Martland, writing for the majority, states that it is very clear that the injury resulted from the hysterical conduct of a customer that was in reaction to the fire extinguisher performing its proper function. The negligent act was allowing too much grease to build up on the grill but the respondents had discharged their burden of care by having the extinguisher present. This outcome cannot reasonably be seen as a consequence created by allowing too much grease to build up, and therefore Kanellos should not be liable.
Spence, in the dissent, says that the panic could have been foreseen. It was foreseeable that the buildup of grease would necessitate the use of the extinguisher, and it is reasonable that the noise of the extinguisher would cause the hysteria, and further it is reasonable that the hysteria would result in injury. He says that it is "human nature" to react this way in such circumstances.
- Canada employs the Wagon Mound test.
- When there are measures in place to eliminate potential injuries from negligent acts, and they work properly in eliminating the risk when such an act occurs then improbable outcomes resulting from the correct employment of the measure cannot be attributed to the original negligent act.