Palsgraf v. Long Island R. Co
248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (1928)
Court of Appeals of New York
a.The plaintiff, Helen Palsgraf, was waiting for a train on a station platform. b.A man carrying a package was rushing to catch a train that was moving away from a platform across the tracks from Palsgraf. c.As the man attempted to jump aboard the moving train, he seemed unsteady and about to fall. d.A railroad guard on the car reached forward to grab him and another guard on the platform pushed him from behind to help him board the train. In this act, the man’s package was dislodged and fell upon the railroad tracks. e.The package was of small size, about fifteen inches long, and was wrapped in newspaper. f.The package contained fireworks and exploded when it fell upon the railroad tracks. g.The explosion caused scales at the other end of the platform to fall on Palsgraf, causing injuries for which she sued the railroad company. h.The Trial Term ruled that Long Island Railroad Company had been negligent in their conduct. The railroad company appealed and the Appellate Division affirmed the Trial Term’s judgment. Long Island Railroad Company then appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York. 3)Issue
Does Long Island Railroad Company owe a duty to Palsgraf?
No. The Court of Appeals of New York reversed the trial court and appellate court judgment and held that the railroad guard’s duty of care extends to those who may be injured as a result of a foreseeable risk but does not extend to persons whose injuries could not reasonably be foreseen. 5)Court’s Reasoning
The Court of Appeals of New York held that:
a.If the harm was not willful or intentional, it must be shown that the act had possibilities of apparent danger. Since the harm to Palsgraf was not willful on the part of Long Island Railroad Company, it had to be shown that the act of dropping a package had the apparent possibility of danger. There was nothing in...