Monday, November 11, 2013

Osborne v. McMasters case brief

Osborne v. McMasters case brief summary
41 N.W. 543 (Minn. 1889)

In a negligence action, defendant drug store sought review of a decision of the district court for Ramsey County (Minnesota), in which a verdict was rendered for plaintiff administrator.


A clerk in the drug store, in the course of employment, sold to the administrator's intestate a deadly poison without labeling it "poison," as required by statute. The intestate ingested the poison and died. A jury entered a verdict in favor of the administrator in his negligence action against the drug store.


  • On appeal, the court affirmed. 
  • The court held that where a statute or municipal ordinance imposed upon any person a specific duty for the protection or benefit of others, if he neglected to perform that duty he was liable to those for whose protection or benefit it was imposed for any injuries of the character which the statute or ordinance was designed to prevent, and which were proximately produced by such neglect. 
  • The court further held that regardless of whether a duty was imposed by a rule of common law or by a statute, the breach of such duty resulted in negligence. 
  • The court also held that the doctrine of agency applied and that the master was civilly liable for the negligence of his servant committed in the course of employment, and resulting in injuries to third persons.


The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, which entered judgment in favor of the administrator, pursuant to a jury verdict, in his negligence action against the drug store.

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