Q. A messenger is employed to deliver a letter at the hotel ‘X’, while he was in the hotel for the purpose a ceiling fan fell upon him and he was injured. A notice exhibited at the entrance excluded liability to the visitors which the messenger had seen. Would the doctrine of ‘Volenti not fit injuria’ will apply?
17th Bihar Judicial Service Exam, 1977
Ans: Facts of this problem are similar to the famous case of Cates v. Mongini Bros., (1971) 19 Bom LR 778. In this case, the plaintiff a lady visitor to a restaurant was injured by the falling of a ceiling fan on her. The reason for the falling of the fan was a latent defect in the fan and the defect could not be discovered even by exercise of ordinary care, skill and caution on the part of the defendant. In an action against the defendant (owner of the restaurant) it was held that since the harm could not be foreseen by the defendant, he was not negligent, thus, not liable for the injury sustained by lady plaintiff.
Thus, on the basis of decision given in Cates v. Mongini Bros. it can be said that in the given problem defendant is not liable for the injury of messenger if fan does not fall because of the negligence of the defendant.
However, if the fan falls because of the negligence of the defendant, he will be liable for the injury sustained by the plaintiff and the plea of ‘Volenti non fit injuria’ cannot be accepted as the doctrine of ‘Volenti non fit injuria’ does not apply in case of negligence by the defendant.
Source: Kishor Prasad, Problems & Solutions in Civil Law