14 November 2013
Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., Ct. of App. of N.Y., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928).
The plaintiff in this case, Mrs. Palsgraf, was aboard a Long Island Railroad train. As she was standing on the train’s platform, two men ran and jumped upon the train to catch it. One of the two men, the second running, happened to be carrying a small package. This package happened to contain fireworks. A guard on the platform helped this man board along with another guard on the train itself but while doing so the man dropped his package containing the explosives and when it hit the tracks it simultaneously exploded. The aftershock of the fireworks combusting not only affected the scales on the opposite side of the platform but caused them in total to weaken and fall, in turn striking the plaintiff Mrs. Palsgraf and causing her bodily injuries. Palsgraf decided to sue Long Island Railroad Company in a personal injury lawsuit. The court was found in favor of Palsgraf against Long Island Railroad Company and thus Long Island Railroad Company appealed. The final judgement was again affirmed (Palsgraf was found in the right of her lawsuit.) on appeal and Long Island Railroad appealed yet again.
Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Company is regarded a landmark case in regards to tort law which helped to establish the concept of limitations of negligence with respect to “scope of liability” as well as the concept of proximate cause.
The highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiff, Mrs. Palsgraf, lawsuit against the Long Island Railroad Company (the event which occurred at the East New York Long Island Rail Road station on Atlantic Avenue on a LIRR train) was too indirect to make the Long Island Railroad Company or their employees liable. The New York Court of Appeals also ordered the plaintiff to pay the railroad’s legal expenses which was routine practice at the time....