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p388 Dejecti Effusive Actio

Article by George Long, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College
on p388 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

DEJECTI EFFUSIVE ACTIO. If any person threw or poured out anything from a place or upper chamber (caenaculum) upon a road which was frequented by passengers, or on a place where people used to stand, and thereby caused any damage, the praetor's edict gave the injured person an actio in duplum. The action was against the occupier. If several persons inhabited a caenaculum, and any injury was done to another by a thing being thrown or poured out of it, he had a right of action against any of them, if the doer was uncertain. The damages recoverable were to double the amount of the damage, except in the case of a liber, when they were fifty aurei, if he was killed; and any person might sue for the money within a year, but the right of action was given in preference to a person "cujus interest," or to affines or cognati. If a man was only injured in his person, the damages were "quantum ob eam rem aequum judici videbitur eum cum quo agatur condemnari," which included the expences of a medical attendant, loss of time, and loss of a man's earnings during the time of his cure, or loss of future earnings by reason of his having been rendered incapable of making such earnings. If injury was caused by a thing being thrown from a ship, there was an actio utilis; for the words of the edict are, "Unde in eum locum quo volgo iter fiat vel in quo consistatur, dejectum," &c.

The edict applied to things which were suspended over a public place and which by their fall might injure people. It allowed any person to bring an action for the recovery of ten aurei against any person who disregarded this rule of the edict. If a thing so suspended, fell down and injured any person, there was an actio against him who placed it there.

As many of the houses in Rome were lofty, and inhabited to the top by the poor (Cic. Agr. II.35; Hor. Ep. I.1.91; Juv. Sat. X.17), and probably as there were very imperfect means for carrying off rubbish and other accumulations, it was necessary to provide against accidents which might happen by such things being thrown through the window. According to Labeo's opinion, the edict only applied to the daytime, and not to the night, which, however, was the more dangerous time for a passer-by. (Dig. 9 tit. 3; Dig.44 tit. 7 s5 § 5; Inst. 4 5; Juv. Sat. III.268, &c.; Thibaut, System, &c. § 566, 9th ed.)

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