The Supreme Court rendered the 109-Tai-Shang-743 Decision of July 23, 2020 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if the inadequacies in the installation or management of a publicly-owned public facility would normally result in damage, there is a causal relationship.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Appellant asserted that the Appellee (a county police department) had built next to the Appellant’s property (hereinafter, the “Property at Issue”) an outdoor motorcycle parking shed (hereinafter, the “Parking Shed at Issue”) on a statutory vacant legal land (hereinafter, the “Statutory Vacant Land at Issue”) of a police station previously managed by the Appellee. After the police station was abolished, the Appellee piled up a large quantity of plastic Jersey barriers in the Parking Shed at Issue and on the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue. The Jersey barriers subsequently caught fire for unknown reasons (hereinafter, the “Fire at Issue”) with the fire extended to the Property at Issue, resulting in spalling cement on the walls, exposed brick walls, and burned doors, windows and articles in the Property at Issue. The Appellant built the Parking Shed at Issue, which should be kept clear, on the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue without a fireproof protection distance, and piled up a large number of Jersey barriers in violation of laws and regulations that protect others such as Article 11, Paragraph 2 and Article 73, Paragraph 2 of the Building Law and Article 110 and Article 110-1 of the Building Design and Construction Part of the Building Technical Regulations. Since the Appellee had inadequacies in the construction of the Parking Shed at Issue and the management of the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue, resulting in the damage to the Appellant, the Appellant claimed damages from the Appellee in accordance with Article 3 of the National Compensation Law and Article 184, Paragraph 1 (first part) and Paragraph 2, Article 191, Article 195, Paragraph 1 (first paragraph) and Article 196 of the Civil Code.
According to the Decision, if a citizen’s life, body or property is injured due to inadequate installation or management of public infrastructure, the state should be liable for damages under Article 3, Paragraph 1 of the National Compensation Law. Therefore, when national compensation is claimed pursuant to the above provision, there should be a specific causal relationship between the injury to the citizen’s life, body or property and the inadequacies in the installation or management of the publicly-owned public facility. However, a causal relationship is established when the inadequacies in the installation or management of a publicly-owned public facility would objectively result in damage. If such damage is certainly or normally not resulted, there is no causal relationship.
It was further indicated in the Decision that since the Parking Shed at Issue and the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue are both public facilities, the Appellee was inadequate in the installation and management of publicly-owned public facilities because of its failure to reserve a fire protection distance from the Property at Issue when constructing the Parking Shed at Issue on the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue and to pile up Jersey barriers on the Statutory Vacant Land at Issue and in the Parking Shed at Issue next to the outer wall of the Property at Issue. Since the original trial court held that the purpose of reserving a fire protection distance is to prevent the spread of fire in the event of a fire and to prevent the fire from extending to the adjacent building, this calls into question if the Fire at Issue could have been prevented from extending to the Property at Issue or if the damage to the property or any item in the property could have been reduced even though the fire extended to the Property at Issue in case the Appellee had reserved a fire protection distance from the Property at Issue when constructing the Parking Shed at Issue and kept the fire protection distance clear without piling up Jersey barriers there. If the damage from the extension of the Fire at Issue could be prevented or reduced, whether it is true that there is no certain causal relationship between the Appellee’s inadequacies in the installation and management of the above-mentioned publicly-owned public facilities and the damage incurred by the Appellant should be further explored. The original trial court was certainly questionable when it jumped to the conclusion that the outbreak of the Fire at Issue was caused by third-party arson without any specific causal relationship with the Appellee’s construction of the Parking Shed at Issue and the pileup of Jersey barriers and further rendered a decision unfavorable to the Appellant. Since the gist of the appeal was not groundless, the original decision was reversed and remanded.