Dooley -v- Cammell Laird and Co Ltd; 1951

References: [1951] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 271
Coram: Donovan J
The plaintiff was a crane driver whose load of timber, drums of paint, and bags of bolts etc, and without any fault on his part, fell into the hold of a ship as they were being lowered along with scaffolding. No one was actually injured but the plaintiff knew that fellow workers were then in the hold, and he suffered nervous shock. He sued his employers saying that the sling was either overloaded or defective in breach of shipbuilding regulations and the common law duties to provide safe plant and a safe system.
Held: The plaintiff was entitled to recover in those circumstances. Cammell Laird were in breach of the regulations. one of which was made as a protection against the risk of bodily injury which included injury to the nerves, the nerves being a part of the body.
Donovan J said: ‘I suppose I may reasonably infer that his fellow workmen down the hold were his friends,’ Mr Dooley was the unwitting agent of the defendant’s negligence. He was the crane driver who, without any fault, was party to an accident which could have killed his fellow workers. It was his activity in operating the crane which caused the actual and potential damage. It was that activity which brought him into the category of persons for whom the defendants owed a duty of care, not really any question of relationships of friendships.
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