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Abstract

It is the aim of the law to attempt to provide remedies for wrongs and to attempt to punish those who have caused harm. What harms may be punished and what remedies exist for what wrong are what a life, indeed, many lifetimes in the law can be spent contemplating. According to the August 25, 1924 account on the front page of the New York lTimes ("Bomb Blast Injures 13 in Station Crowd") thirteen persons were injured when one of three men (assumed to be Italians on their way to a celebration on Long Island) carrying packages of fireworks sought to board a Long Island Railroad train and being helped along by a push from a guard on the platform, dropped a package that fell under the wheels of the train and exploded. The tort action that resulted, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 162 N.E 99 (N.Y. 1928), is the most famous case in all of torts. Generations of students and lawyers have sought to comprehend the nature of causation by reading Judge Cardozo's majority opinion. The debate between Cardozo's limited version of causation and Judge Andrew's much broader minority version of causation is not, and will not ever be, over. The question of how and when the law should act to redress a wrong, to attempt to heal with an order or with money is replayed in ever changing venues in every generation. As a new generation oversees perhaps the final chapters in our relations with the earth, nature and each other, the questions of harm and duty and causation are cast in new terms, but a close observer will note nothing new under the sun.

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