152 Eng. Rep. 402 (Ex. 1842).

One-Sentence Takeaway: Under the traditional common law rules (later abandoned by the courts), there was no liability on the part of a negligent manufacturer to another in the absence of privity.

Summary: Defendant contracted with the Postmaster-General to supply, and to maintain in safe working order, coaches to carry the mail.  Plaintiff was a mail coach driver who was injured in a wreck caused by a defect in one of defendant’s coaches.  The driver brought a tort claim against the defendant (a claim against the Postmaster-General presumably being barred).

Fearing an “infinity of actions” if the claim were to be allowed, the court ruled that claims for breach of a duty originating in a contract could be brought only by parties in privy to the agreement.  The court’s ruling was based on two principles: first, that if such liability were recognized there would be no point at which such liability would cease; and second, that the only duty owed by the manufacturer to the users of its product is that which arises from express or implied warranty incidental to contract.

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