Friday, October 10, 2014

Palsgraf v. Long Island RR case brief summary

Palsgraf v. Long Island RR case brief summary

F: A passenger carrying a package, while hurrying to catch and board a moving train. The employee of D attempted to help the passenger and caused a package the passenger was holding to fall on the rails. However, the package contained fireworks, and it exploded. The shock knocked down scales at the other end of the platform which injured P. P sued the railroad, claiming her injury resulted from negligent acts of the employee. TC and AC found for P, D appealed the judgment. 
Let’s forget the vicarious for this case.
Negligent act: negligent help
Summer in NY
Job is in general to maintain crowd control (safety of passenger) as well as help people to load the luggage. On the other hand, guard’s job is also to stop people run to catch the train despite the train was moving. There is no foreseeability that package would explode.

I: whether the relationship of the guard's action to P's injury was direct to make him liable.
This is duty case unexpected plaintiff
Does defendant owe duty to the unexpected plaintiff several feet a way when a pushing a man(what this court focuses)

R: D owes a duty of care only to those Ps who are in the reasonably foreseeable zone of danger
There is no duty in this case, so no negligence

A: Court found that there was no way that the guard could have known that the package wrapped in newspaper was dangerous, and that pushing the passenger would thereby cause an explosion. The court wrote that "there was nothing in the situation to suggest to the most cautious mind that the parcel wrapped in newspaper would spread wreckage through the station. If the guard had thrown it down knowingly and willfully, he would not have threatened the plaintiff's safety, so far as appearances could warn him." Without any perception that one's actions could harm someone, there could be no duty towards that person, and therefore no negligence for which to impose liability.
The court also stated that whether the guard had acted negligently to the passenger he pushed was irrelevant for her claim, because the only negligence that a person can sue for is a wrongful act that violates their own rights. P could not sue the guard for pushing the other passenger because that act did not violate a duty to her, as is required for liability under a negligence theory. It is not enough for a P to merely claim an injury. "If the harm was not willful, he must show that the act as to him had possibilities of danger so many and apparent as to entitle him to be protected against the doing of it though the harm was unintended."

This concept of
foreseeability in tort law tends to limit liability to the consequences of an act that could reasonably be foreseen rather than every single consequence that follows. Otherwise, liability could be unlimited in scope, as causes never truly cease having effects far removed in time and space

Dissenting: by contrast, saw the case as a matter of proximate cause—Palsgraf's injury could be immediately traced to the wrong committed by the guard, and the fact of the wrong and the fact of the injury should be enough to find negligence.

The dissent took note of recent expansions in New York state tort law, that allowed children to sue for the wrongful death of a parent, and spouses for loss of consortium; arguing that these expansions were based on the fact of injury beyond the foreseen injury of the deceased, and on the needs of public policy. "What we do mean by the word 'proximate' is, that because of convenience, of public policy, of a rough sense of justice, the law arbitrarily declines to trace a series of events beyond a certain point. This is not logic. It is practical politics."

In sum, is it fair to make people liable (Dissenting opinion – not against foreseeability, this is proximate cause and it’s jury question)

C: reversed

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