Negligence – Res Ipsa Loquitur – Doctine Applied Although Damage Causing Instrumentality Within the Exclusive Control of Defendant at the Time of the Damage

Seven months after defendant had installed a washbowl in a bathroom in plaintiff’s house, the house was damaged by water when one of the pipes became disconnected from a faucet. During the two weeks immediately prior to the damage the house was unoccupied, but inspections were made every two or three days by plaintiff’s employee. Plaintiff sued defendant to recover for the damage caused by defendant’s alleged negligence in connecting the water pipe to the washbowl. In a trial to the court, the evidence tended to eliminate other possible causes of the disconnection, such as rough use or manufacturing fault. The trial judge gave judgment for the plaintiff, relying upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. On appeal, held, affirmed. Proof of defendant’s control of the damage causing instrumentality at the time of the alleged negligence will suffice to invoke the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur if the plaintiff reasonably eliminates other possible intervening causes of the damage. Rinkel v. Lee’s Plumbing & Heating Co., 99 N.W. 2d 779 (Minn. 1959).