Some Royal Mail employees had removed a manhole to work under the road. They had marked it clearly as dangerous. They took a tea break, and when this happened Hughes, a young boy, went into the manhole to explore. After getting back out, a lamp was either dropped or knocked into the hole and an explosion resulted, causing Hughes to fall back in where he was badly burned. The lower court dismissed the case stating that the actual event that led to the injuries was the explosion, and that it was not foreseeable as it resulted from numerous unlikely events, and Hughes appealed.
- Does the foreseeability of the actual event that caused the injury matter, or just the foreseeability of injury?
Appeal allowed. He was charged.
Reid, in a unanimous decision, holds that what is truly of importance is whether the lighting of a fire outside of the manhole was a reasonably foreseeable result of leaving the manhole unwatched, and they determine that it was as the lamps were left there. He focuses on the lamp, and states that the types of injuries that are reasonably foreseeable from lamps are burns, which is exactly what we have here. Therefore, the injury is not different in kind from what should have been expected. As long as you can foresee in a general way the type of injury that occurs then you have proximate cause.
As long as the general type of injury can be foreseen, there will be proximate cause.