Tort Law: Boom Professional Demolition Ltd (Boom)

On the Monday 4th September 2017 Boom Professional Demolition Ltd (Boom) carried out a controlled detonation using explosives to demolish the Lister Building Chimney. The demolition was broadcast live on morning news programmes. The chimney stood 518 feet (158 metres) tall – the same height as the Blackpool Tower. The chimney, in the demolition, was supposed to implode and fall into its own footprint (collapse straight down). However, the collapse did not go to plan and the chimney fell sideways across power cables, a railway line, and houses.

Ten year old Teresa Smith won a radio show prize to push the detonator button. After she pushed the button, she had to run for cover with some of Boom`s employees as the chimney fell in her direction. Rubble from the explosion destroyed the desk from where she pushed the button. The event affected her significantly. Teresa has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Teresa’s father, Liam, was at the demolition site in a spectators` area. He thought that his daughter had been killed in the collapse. His initial response was to shout “You incompetent idiot, I’m going to get you” followed by Liam punching Dave Smith, the owner of Boom, who was sitting nearby. Although Liam was later relieved to see that Teresa only suffered minor physical injuries, the trauma has affected him significantly. Teresa’s school friends and teachers were also watching her push the demolition button. Headmistress Daphne Thomas was with Liam in the spectators` area and class teacher Nadia Sharples was watching on television. Liam, Daphne and Nadia have been diagnosed with acute stress reaction.

InPrint are a nearby printing company. The damage caused to the electrical supply interrupted their printing presses for a week. When the demolition and associated power cut initially occurred, Inprint were midway through printing a large laminate wall panel costing £1000. The printing process stopped mid-design and colourants flooded across the panel ruining it. Further, Inprint had a full week of urgent prints orders to produce for clients and had to contact their clients to cancel the work. Inprint estimate that the lost revenue for the week would be £10,000 with a further £5000 of lost revenue on subsequent orders as their clients stay with alternative printers.
Local resident Rehana Khan returned home late on Monday evening to discover significant damage to her house caused by fire. Fire investigators have advised that vibrations from the demolition ruptured a gas pipe outside of her house. Gas blew across her property and into her house through open windows. Rehana has lights in her house set on timers and the gas appears to have been ignited when the lights automatically switched on. 
Powerhouse Rail operate the nearby railway line. Debris from the collapse covered the line. Whilst the debris was being removed, they diverted trains onto another route. A North Rail train was diverted onto this alternate route and collided with a parked train operated by Branson Rail.

An investigation into the collapse by industry experts has concluded that Booms explosive expert, Danny Wizz, used a single low velocity explosive when accepted industry practice is to use numerous small high velocity explosives strategically placed within the structure, and this caused the structure to fall sideways. 

In the context of the Torts of Negligence and Trespass and the principle of vicarious liability, address the legal issues arising from this scenario and advise the parties accordingly.

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