Doughty v. Turner Manufacturing Co., Limited
1 Q.B. 518 (C.A. 1963)

  • Doughty worked at Turner near a giant vat filled with molten chemicals. Someone knocked a lid into the vat.
  • There was no splash, but a few minutes later, the entire vat erupted in some sort of explosion, and Doughty got covered in chemicals. He sued for negligence.
    • Turner argued that there was some chemical reaction between the chemicals and the lid that no one was expecting to happen. They couldn’t be held liable for accident that were completely unforeseeable.
    • Unlike in the comic books, Doughty did not get superpowers.
  • The Trial Court found for Doughty. Turner appealed.
  • The English Appellate Court reversed.
    • The English Appellate Court found that the risk of the negligence was from splash, but there was no splash. Any subsequent events were not foreseeable, and therefore outside of the scope of the risk, and there was no breach of duty.
    • The Court compared this case to Hughes v. Lord Advocate (A.C. 837 (H.L.) (1963)), which had a similar issue, although that case came to the opposite conclusion.
  • One of the major criticisms of using a scope of the risk approach is that the outcome of the case can depends on how risk is defined.
    • The harm to Doughty was that he got splashed with hot liquid because someone dropped a lid into a giant vat. Is there really much difference between getting directly splashed and getting splashed due to a chemical reaction?