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Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R.

Court of Appeals of New York
162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928)

Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R.


Helen Palsgraf (plaintiff) was standing on a platform owned by the Long Island R.R. (railroad) (defendant). While she was waiting to catch a train, a different train bound for another destination stopped at the station. Two men ran to catch the train as it was moving away from the station. One of the men was carrying a package that, unbeknownst to anyone on the platform, contained fireworks. The first man jumped aboard the train safely, but the man with the package had difficulty. Two train employees helped the man get on the train. However, in the process, the man dropped the package. It fell to the rails and exploded, causing several scales at the other end of the platform to dislodge and injure Palsgraf. Palsgraf brought suit against the railroad for negligence. The trial court granted judgment for Palsgraf, and the appellate division affirmed. The railroad appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cardozo, C.J.)

Dissent (Andrews, J.)

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Questions & Answers

Under modern jurisprudence, does the fact that the railroad employees assisted the man with the fireworks have any bearing on the railroad's liability?

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