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Mouse’s Case. - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 1.
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(1608) Michaelmas Term, 6 James I.
First Published in the Reports, volume 12, page 63.
Ed.: A note Case. A ferryman was carrying forty-seven people, including a fellow named Mouse, when a storm blew up and threatened the barge. A fellow passenger threw over all of the cargo to save the barge, including Mouse’s casket, with £113 inside. Mouse sued but lost. In Cases of necessity, anyone may act to save lives and there is no liability to them, although there may be liability against the ferryman.
In an action of Trespasse brought by Mouse, for a Casket, and a hundred & thirteen pounds, taken and carried away; the Case was, the Ferry-man of Gravesend took forty seven Passengers into his Barge, to passe to London, and Mouse was one of them, and the Barge being upon the water, a great Tempest hapned, and a strong wind, so that the Barge and all the passengers were in danger to be drowned, if a Hogshead of Wine and other ponderous things were not cast out, for the safeguard of the lives of the men: It was resolved per totam Curiam,1 that in case of necessity, for the saving of the lives of the passengers, it was lawfull to the Defendant being a passenger to cast the Casket of the Plaintiff out of the Barge, with the other things in it, for Quod quis ob tutelam corporis sui fecerit, jure id fecisse videtur,2 to which the Defendant pleads all this speciall matter; and the Plaintiff replies, De injuria sua propria absque tali causa:3 And the first day of this Term, this Issue was tried, and it was proved directly, that if the things had not been cast out of the Barge, the passengers had been drowned: And that Levandi causa,4 they were ejected; some by one passenger and some by another; And upon this the Plaintiff was non-suit.
It was also resolved, that although the Ferry-man sur-charge the Barge, yet for safety of the lives of Passengers in such a time and accident of necessity, it is lawfull for any passenger to cast the things out of the Barge: And the Owners shall have their remedy upon the sur-charge against the Ferry-man, for the fault was in him upon the sur-charge; but if no sur-charge was, but the danger accrued only by the act of God, as by Tempest, no default being in the Ferry-man, every one ought to bear his losse for the safeguard of the life of a man, for Interest Reipublicae quod homines conserventur,5 8 Edw. 4. 23, &c. 12 Hen. 8. 15. 28 Hen. 8. Dyer 36. plucking down of a house in time of fire, &c. And this Pro bono publico, & conservatio vitae hominis est bonum publicum.6 So if a Tempest arise in the Sea, Levandi navis causa,7 and for salvation of the lives of men, it may be lawfull for Passengers to cast over the Merchandizes, &c.
[1. ][Ed.: by the whole court,]
[2. ][Ed.: Whatever someone does to protect his body, is deemed to be done rightfully,]
[3. ][Ed.: Of his own wrong without such cause:]
[4. ][Ed.: In order to lighten the load,]
[5. ][Ed.: It is in the interest of the common weal that men should be saved.]
[6. ][Ed.: For the public good; and the preservation of a man’s life is a public good.]
[7. ][Ed.: In order to lighten the ship,]