Dooley v Cammell Laird and Co Ltd: 1951

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.


Donovan J


[1951] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 271

Cited by:

CitedSalter v UB Frozen Chilled Foods OHCS 25-Jul-2003
The pursuer was involved in an accident at work, where his co-worker died. He suffered only psychiatric injury.
Held: Being directly involved, the pursuer was a primary victim, and accordingly not subject to the limits on claiming for . .
CitedAlcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police QBD 31-Jul-1990
Overcrowding at a football match lead to the deaths of 95 people. The defendant’s employees had charge of safety at the match, and admitted negligence vis-a-vis those who had died and been injured. The plaintiffs sought damages, some of them for . .
CitedAlcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police HL 28-Nov-1991
The plaintiffs sought damages for nervous shock. They had watched on television, as their relatives and friends, 96 in all, died at a football match, for the safety of which the defendants were responsible. The defendant police service had not . .
CitedAlcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police CA 31-May-1991
The defendant policed a football match at which many people died. The plaintiffs, being relatives and friends of the deceased, inter alia suffered nervous shock having seen the events either from within the ground, or from outside or at home on . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Damages, Health and Safety

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.186974