Ploof v Putnam

Fact pattern and procedural history

During a heavy storm, Ploof and his family moored their sloop to a dock owned by Putnam. Putnam’s employee unmoored the sloop, causing it and its contents to be destroyed by the storm and causing bodily harm to Ploof and his family. Plaintiffs Ploof brought actions for trespass and negligent infliction of harm against Putnam.

Questions of law

What does the doctrine of necessity permit? Can an action be brought against an individual who resists torts protected by necessity?

Finding

The court held that the “doctrine of necessity applies with special force to the preservation of human life” and accordingly the case disclosed a necessity for mooring the sloop at the dock. Necessity was not only in force with respect to mooring, but to mooring at the most immediate point, the dock.

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