Pierson v. Post – 2 Am. Dec. 264 (N.Y. 1805)

Case Name: Pierson v. Post
Plaintiff/Appellee: Post
Defendant/Appellant: Pierson
Citation: 2 Am. Dec. 264 (N.Y. 1805)

Issue: Whether a trespass was committed when Pierson killed and carried off the fox that was being hunted by Post.

Key Facts: Post was hunting a fox with dogs and hounds and while he was hunting the fox, Pierson, who knew that Post was hunting, killed and carried off the fox.

Procedural History: The first court found for the plaintiff, Post.

Holding: A trespass was not committed although the conduct of Pierson was uncourteous towards Post, his act did not produce an injury or damage for which a legal remedy can be applied.

Reasoning: Based off Barbeyrac, the actual bodily seizure is not necessary constitute possession of wild animals; however, pursuit alone is insufficient to constitute possession.

Judgment: The second court reversed the decision.

Dissent: The dissenting opinion stated that property in animals may be acquired without bodily touch or manucaption, provided the pursuer be within reach, or have a reasonable prospect of taking, what he has thus discovered an intention of converting to his own use.

Types of Strict Liability

Strict liability has three major categories:

1. Animals

2. Abnormally Dangerous Activities; and

3. Products Liability

Animals – Owned or Possessed

Under the Restatement (Third) there are three categories of animals in strict liability:

1. Livestock – the owner or possessor of livestock is subject to strict liability if the livestock intrudes upon the land of another and physical harm is caused by the intrusion

2. Abnormally Dangerous Animals

3. Wild Animals – A possessor of a wild animal is subject to strict liability to another for harm done by the animal to the other person’s body, land or chattels, even if the possessor has exercised the utmost care to confine the animal, or otherwise prevent it from doing harm

  • Note: Wild animals are animals that have not been generally domesticated

Abnormally Dangerous Activities

One who carries on an abnormally dangerous activitiy is subject to liability for harm to the person, land or chattels of another resulting from the activity, although he has exercised the utmost care to prevent the harm.

Examples of Abnormally Dangerous Activities are:

  1. Impoundments (noxious substances or liquids)
  2. Hazardous wastes
  3. The Superfund Act
  4. Lateral support
  5. Blasting and explosives
  6. Nuclear energy
  7. Other high-energy activities
  8. Utilities
  9. Fireworks
  10. Poisons
  • Note: For a plaintiff to recover, he must show that the defendant was carrying on in an abnormally dangerous activity that proximately caused harm to his person or property.

Products Liability

The Restatement (Third) states that a product is defective when, at the time of sale or distribution, the product contained a manufacturing defect, is defective in design, or is defective because of inadequate instructions or warnings.

  • Note: A plaintiff must prove that the product was defective, the defect existed when it left the defendant’s control, and that the defect actually and proximately caused his injury.