This case was heard in the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench (Trial Division).
As a bulldozer was grading land near the stone foundation of a nearby farmhouse, the bulldozer scraped the stone, which caused small rocks from the foundation to fall. One of those rocks hit and broke a valve on a nearby oil tank, causing a small oil spill. The Department of the Environment was notified and the oil spill was cleaned up, costing nearly $40,000.
The homeowners sued the bulldozer operator for negligence. After finding that the bulldozer operator owed the plaintiffs a duty of care and breached the standard of care, the Court went on to find that the consequences of his action were reasonably foreseeable and not too remote. The Court also found that the homeowners had not assumed any risks, but had relied on the bulldozer operator’s skill and expertise. Further, the Court found that the oil spill was not inevitable, nor could the bulldozer operator rely on the defence of having acted in accord with general and approved practice. For all of these reasons, the Court held that the bulldozer operator had in fact been negligent, and it ordered him to pay the costs of the clean up.