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Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company v. Kellogg, 94 U.S. 469 (1876)

Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company v. Kellogg

94 U.S. 469


1. As the effect of the statute of Iowa is to make an occupant of land in that state, who, under color of title thereto, and in good faith, has made valuable improvements thereon, the owner of the improvements, the question as to the ownership of the land is immaterial in an action to recover for their willful or negligent destruction.

2. Where the subject of a proposed inquiry before a court is not a matter of science, but of common observation, upon which the ordinary mind is capable of forming a judgment, experts ought not to be permitted to state their conclusions.

3. The question as to what is the proximate cause of an injury is ordinarily not one of science or of legal knowledge, but of fact for the jury to determine in view of the accompanying circumstances.

4. A finding that negligence, or an act not amounting to wanton wrong, is the proximate cause of an injury is not warranted, unless it appear that the

Page 94 U. S. 470

injury was the natural and probable consequence of the negligence or wrongful act and that it ought to have been foreseen in the light of the attending circumstances. Where there is no intermediate efficient cause, the original wrong must be considered as reaching to the effect and proximate to it.

5. The finding of the jury in this case that the burning of the plaintiff's mill and lumber was the unavoidable consequence of the burning of the defendants' elevator, which had been caused by their negligence, is in effect a finding that there was no intervening and independent cause between the negligent conduct of the defendants and the injury to the plaintiff.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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