The Law School Authority

Brown v. Shyne Case Brief

Summary of Brown v. Shyne, 242 N.Y. 176, 151 N.E. 197 (1926)

Facts: D gave chiropractic treatment to P. D was not licensed to practice medicine.  P was paralyzed by D’s treatment.

Procedure: The trial judge instructed the jury that D violated a statute by practicing medicine without a license.  He instructed the jury that they can consider this as a factor in determining whether D was negligent. Jury verdict for P.

Issue: Did the trial judge err by instructing the jury that they can consider D’s violation of the statute in determining whether he was negligent?

Holding: Yes

Rationale: According to the court:  “Breach or neglect of duty imposed by statute or ordinance may be evidence of negligence only if there is logical connection between the proven neglect of statutory duty and the alleged negligence.”  The intended purpose of the statute is to save the people from unskilled and careless practitioners and unless it can be shown that the defendant was careless or unskilled, his failure to obtain a license cannot be connected with the negligence determination.

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