Osborne v McMasters

Dispute

A drug-store clerk negligently sold unlabeled poison to a customer, who drank it and died. A statute required the labeling of poisons. Decedent’s estate sued.

Questions of law

Does a statute impose a specific duty in the context of tort liability, and does such a statute give rise to a right of action under that statute?

Conclusion

The common law gives a right of action to every one sustaining injuries caused proximately by the negligence of another, and since negligence is the breach of legal duty, breach of a legal duty imposed by statute (presuming that statute is designed for the protection of others) is negligence per se.

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