Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. v. American Cyanamid Co., 916 F.2d 1174 (7th Cir. 1990), is a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit authored by Judge Richard Posner. The case has subsequently become a staple of first year Torts courses taught in American law schools, where the case is used to address the question of when it is better to use negligence liability or strict liability.
American Cyanamid was a manufacturer that produced chemicals, including acrylonitrile, which is used in making acrylic fibers, plastics, dyes, pharmaceutical chemicals, and other products. In January 1979, American Cyanamid wanted to ship acrylonitrile from its plant in Louisiana to its plant in New Jersey. It therefore leased a tank car from the North American Car Corporation, filled it with 20,000 gallons of liquid acrylonitrile, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad then picked up the car from the Louisiana plant. Missouri Pacifi