Ezra Ripley Thayer, Public Wrong and Private Action

Dispute

A plaintiff was injured by a runaway horse which had been left unhitched by defendant in violation of local ordinance.

Questions of law

Can a jury evaluate negligence under an “ordinary and prudent” standard when the injurious act was in violation of statute?

Conclusions

The court held that “ordinary and prudent” becomes synonymous with adherence to the law in the question of liability evaluation, and as such a jury is not permitted to evaluate the question of negligence, but only whether the law was broken and whether the damage resulted from it.

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