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LEGAL PRINCIPLE: (1) Negligence is the omission to do something which reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do or doing something which a prudent or reasonable man would not do.
(2) Defendant's duty of care depends on the reasonable foreseeability of injury which may be caused to the plaintiff on breach of duty.
FACTS: The defendant employees of the Municipal Corporation opened a manhole on the street and in the evening left the manhole open and covered it by a canvas shelter, unattended and surrounded by warning lamps. The plaintiff, an eight years old boy, took one of the lamps into the shelter and was playing with it there, when he stumbled over it and fell into the manhole. A violent explosion followed and the plaintiff suffered burn injuries. The defendants ______.

Not liable because the injury to plaintiff was not foreseeable
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Liable because they should have completed the work before they left
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Not liable because they acted reasonably
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Liable because they acted unreasonably
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The correct option is D Liable because they acted unreasonably
  • The main requisites for a tort of negligence are:
(1) a duty of care on the part of the defendant towards the plaintiff.
(2) the defendant breaches the duty either through some act or through some omission
(3) an injury is suffered by the plaintiff
(4) the loss or damage caused to the plaintiff is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's breach of duty.
  • In the present case, the Municipal Corporation clearly owed a duty of care towards the people walking on the streets while leaving the manhole open. A breach of duty occurred while leaving the manhole unattended. The child suffered injuries and it can be reasonably concluded that a child would not be able to understand the importance of warning lamps or the canvas shelter. A similar observation was made by the Bombay High Court while holding the Bombay Municipal Corporation liable for negligently leaving a manhole open with a mere 'Danger' sign and subsequent death of a child (Shripat Shankar Panchal v Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai).

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