Scott v. Dyno Nobel, Inc., No. 18-2897 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After a nitric acid manufacturing plant operated by Dyno emitted a cloud of nitric oxides engulfing workers, including plaintiff, plaintiff and his wife filed a negligence action against Dyno. The district court applied Missouri law and granted summary judgment to Dyno, concluding that Dyno did not owe plaintiff a legal duty of care because his injury was not foreseeable.
The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that the record on summary judgment establishes that the question of foreseeability, as incorporated into the analysis of the legal duty of care under Missouri law, was not appropriate for summary judgment. Rather, the court held that the question of foreseeability is subject to varying inferences and is therefore an issue for a jury. In this case, although there was no evidence that emissions of NOx gas from the Dyno smokestack previously had caused injury to workers at the nearby Calumet site, a reasonable jury could find that the circumstances of the emissions in this case created some probability or likelihood of harm sufficiently serious that ordinary persons would take precautions to avoid it. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings.