This ideal stocking stuffer is essential wear for the well-appointed torts lawyer.
The teeshirt refers to the celebrated case of Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928), written by Chief Judge Benjamin Cardozo. In the case read by every law student for decades, a passenger carrying a package with fireworks was running to catch a moving train. Two employees attempted to help the man on the train car and caused the package to fall on the rails. When the package exploded, it knocked down scales at the other end of the platform injuring Mrs. Helen Palsgraf. When Palsgraf sued the railroad for negligence, the court had to consider the scope of proximate causation. Cardozo held 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.”
Many researchers have suggested that Palsgraf was closer than the court assumed, though some suggested that it was the crowd not the explosion that tipped the proverbial scales. Here is the account from Prosser, Wade and Schwartz’s Cases and Materials on Torts, 9th edition, 1994:
The Record in this case is set out in Scott and Simpson, Cases on Civil Procedure, pp. 891-940 (1950). A study of it indicates that as described in the opinions, the event could not possibly have happened. These were apparently ordinary fireworks, and not bombs. Firecrackers were heard exploding; there was a “ball of fire” (from a Roman candle?), and a “mass of black smoke.” All this happened in the pit below the edge of the platform, which would have protected the scale. No one testified to seeing it fall over. An appreciable interval elapsed after the first noise and smoke, during which Mrs. Palsgraf said to her daughter, “Elizabeth, turn your back.” Then “the scale blew and hit me in the side.” The platform was crowded, and there was no evidence of any other damage to anybody or anything. Plaintiff’s original complaint, before amendment, alleged that the scale was knocked over by a stampede of frightened passengers. . . .
. . . There was a large crowd of excursionists, “jostling and pushing” to board a Jamaica express train. Three men, each carrying a large package, sought to board the train and a package fell to the track below. A large explosion rocked the car and tore away part of the platform and “overthrew a penny weighing machine more than ten feet away,” smashing the glass and wrecking its mechanism. The police surmised that the three men, who disappeared, were Italians “bound for an Italian celebration somewhere on Long Island, where fireworks and bombs were to play an important role.” The police decided that the event was an accident, with the man dropping the exploding package being jostled by the crowd. One of the other men dropped his parcel in the station as he fled, and it was found to contain fireworks of various kinds.