Tedla v. Ellman (N.Y. 1939)

Procedural History: A trial judge entered judgment for plaintiffs and appellate division affirmed. Defendant does not contest negligence, but argues that both pedestrians were contributorily negligent as a matter of law.

Facts: Two junk collectors, brother and sister, were walking eastward along Sunrise Highway, a major route between NYC and Long Island. There weren’t any sidewalks and they were transporting junk with baby carriages, and so could not walk on the grass center strip.

Issue: Has a party committed contributory negligence if the party breaks a statute, even if the statute was not adopted to prevent the type of accident present in the situation.

Rules: 1933 statute that claimed pedestrians should keep to the left of other center line so that all vehicles passing in either direction would pass on their right.

Application: When a statute does not prescribe additional safeguards to preserve the life, limb, or property of others, then not following a statute for good reason does not mean automatic negligence.

Conclusion: When a statute prescribes additional safeguards to preserve the life, limb, or property of others or themselves, then not following a statute is wrong and the wrongdoer is responsible for damages from this wrong.

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