Osborne v. McMasters Case Brief

Summary of Osborne v. McMasters, S. Ct . Minnesota, 1889

Relevant Facts: Pl Osborne administrator of the PL estate, sought a negligence claim against Df. Df’s clerk sold, without a label, poison to the Pl, who ingested the poison unknowingly.

Legal Issue(s): Whether a the civil standard of care is determined by statute?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Judgment for PL, Df appeals. Affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): Where a statute or ordinance imposes upon any person a specific duty for the protection of others, if he neglects to perform that duty he is liable to those for whose protection or benefit it was imposed for any injury, when caused proximately.

Court Rationale: It is immaterial whether the duty is one imposed by the rule of common law requiring the exercise of ordinary care, or is imposed by statute designed for the protection of others. The failure to perform the duty constitutes negligence. Violation of the statute constitutes conclusive evidence of negligence per se. The statute established a fixed standard.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Df violated the statute, negligence per se.

Defendant’s Argument: Df exercised ordinary care of a reasonable person similarly situated.




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