Often when we are stuck in some problem, we always thought of some way to get out. Like that in the law of torts when people are stuck in some cases, they always find different defences to get out of the cases. In this article, the author will talk about the five important cases in the history of torts on defences taken by the parties.
The very first case is-
Padmawati v. Dugganaika-
Facts- The defendant that is the Dugganaika who is the owner of the jeep bearing registration no. MYS 438. On 16-3-1969. He was travelling to Kodur from Hiriyaka. Mohiddin who is respondent 3, in this case, was the driver of the jeep and the drove the jeep to Kodur. After reaching to Kodur respondent 1 i.e. Dugganaika got down from the jeep and ordered respondent no. 3 to take the jeep to Hosanagar and also to feel the petrol tank.
In Kodur itself, Krishna Bhat and the deceased Ramakrislina got into the jeep. After that, the jeep started to go towards Hosanagar. After reaching one-mile Rama Rao gave the signal to stop the jeep. But the driver of the bus didn’t notice the signal given by Rama Rao. Rama Rao noticed that the jeep is being slowed down at some distance.
Rama Rao heard some sound coming from the jeep. So, he gave the signal to proceed to the jeep. After that, the driver started driving the jeep and suddenly the right-hand side of the front of the jeep flew away, and the driver along with Ramakrishna was thrown out of the jeep. Ramakrishna suffered several injuries and was declared dead. The plaintiff claimed damages.
It was contended from the side of the respondent that the driver was neither driving negligently nor rashly and also it was just an accident.
Held- The master and the driver are not liable as the driver was not driving rashly and negligently and the plaintiff voluntarily got into the jeep. So, they had voluntarily given permission.
This principle is called as volentia non-fit injuria– where the plaintiff has consented and suffered harm.
Hall v. Brook Lands Auto Racing Club-
Facts- There was a racing competition. Some people were the owners of the track and it was oval in shape.
Certain fees are to be paid by the spectator to view the race competition. So, the competition started and the two cars were travelling parallel towards the finish line. So, when the cars were taking a sharp bend to the left. The car suddenly turned right and the cars behind them did the same but suddenly there was a collision between the two cars and the first car flew in the air and directly hit the two spectators which resulted in the death of the spectators. This type of accident is the first accident that has ever happened by the club.
So, the injured persons and the other family of the deceased spectators filed a compensation case against the owner of the track.
Held- It was held that the deceased and the other injured spectators impliedly took the risk of getting injured. The respondent took the defence of volentia non-fit injuria. The moment they bought the ticket and entered the stadium they have impliedly consented towards the risk as this is such a dangerous sport. So, the defendant is not held liable.
Brown v. Kendall-
Facts- Brown and Kendall both own dogs. One day suddenly their dogs started fighting with each other and to separate them the defendant brought a stick i.e. is four feet long. While he was striking the stick towards the dogs, they ran towards the plaintiff and the defendant hit the plaintiff in the eye through the stick which caused severe eye injury to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff filed a case against the defendant for assault and battery.
Held- It was held that if an individual who is doing a lawful act in a lawful manner using ordinary care as a reasonable man will not be held liable for injuries caused to another party.
Here Brown has to show that the defendant was not careful and intentionally beat him with the stick to hold him liable and if the injury to Brown was unavoidable then the defendant is not held liable i.e. defence of Inevitable Accident was applicable.
Nichols v. Marshland-
Facts– The defendant made artificial lakes years ago. He had built a series of an artificial lake that never flooded until 18th of June, 1872. On the 18th of June, there was an unusual rainfall. And due to the heavy rainfall, the lakes overflowed and the gates of the dam gave away because of which the water flowed towards the bridge.
Held- It was held that the defendant is not liable and there was no case of negligence. It was the case of Act of God which means the one cannot be stopped after due care and diligence and which is unavoidable. The Court held that the lakes were they’re from years ago and this type of accident never happened and also there was an unusually heavy rainfall which overflowed the lake which never happened in the previous years.
Kallulal v. Hemchand-
Facts- The appellants were the owner of the house situated in local gunj of Jabalpur. One wall of the house is adjoined with the highway. There was a cycle wheel stalled on the wall which was joint with the highway. One day when it was raining the wall of the house collapsed which resulted in the death of the two children of the stall owner.
The case was filed against the owner of the house. The respondent contended that this is an act of god and he is not at fault.
Held- It was held the defendant is held liable as there was a rainfall of 2.66 inches which is ordinary and it was not an act of god. The defendant was held liable to pay compensation to the plaintiff. And the defence of Act of God can be pleaded when there occurs something extraordinary and out of the blue which cannot be stopped from reasonable care.
 1975 ACJ 222. https://www.legitquest.com/case/padmavathi-v-dugganaika/d97b5.  1932 ALL ER 208.  60 Mass. 292 (1850).  [(1876) 2 ExD 1].  AIR 1958 MP 48.
Author Details: Riddhi Daga (Hidayatullah National Law University)