The Danger Zone in Tort Law 1926

The Danger Zone in Tort Law 1926
The toppling of a penny scale, similar to the one shown here, prompted a ruling that introduced the concept of foreseeability into tort law, limiting liability to reasonably foreseeable consequences of a negligent act. | The Danger Zone in Tort Law 1926

The Danger Zone in Tort Law 1926

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.

Rule

Because it happened to be a wrong, though apparently not one involving the risk of bodily insecurity, with reference to someone else, an act innocent and harmless, at least on the surface, with reference to a plaintiff, does not take on the quality of a tort because it happened to be a wrong, though apparently not one involving the risk of bodily insecurity. In every case, before carelessness can be attributed to a specific conduct, the act must be traced back to a responsibility owed to the person who is complaining, which if followed would have prevented or mitigated the injury. The concepts of negligence and obligation are inextricably linked.

Facts of the Case

Plaintiff is a passenger with a valid ticket. Helen Palsgraf was on the defendant Long Island Railroad Company’s platform. At an adjacent platform, a man carrying a package rushed aboard the car of a running train. A security in the car leaned out to assist him, and a guard on the platform shoved him backwards.

Read more