Brief Fact Summary. A woman died as a result of ingesting poison from an unlabeled bottle purchased at the Defendant, McMaster’s (Defendant) drug store. The Defendant was required by law to label all poisons.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. If a person neglects to perform a duty imposed by either statute or common law and that law is designed for the protection of others, then the evidence of the act or omission constitutes negligence per se.
It is now well settled, certainly in this state, that where a statute or municipal ordinance imposes upon any person a specific duty for the protection or benefit of others, if he neglects to perform that duty he is liable to those for whose protection or benefit it was imposed for any injuries of the character which the statute or ordinance was designed to prevent, and which were proximately produced by such neglect.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the Defendant was negligent in failing to abide by the statutory requirement to label all poisons.
Held. The Defendant was negligent. The non-performance of a legal duty constitutes negligence per se.
Discussion. When a statute imparts a specific duty for the specific protection of others and a person neglects to perform that duty, it is evidence of negligence per se. This is also true when there is a clear duty imposed by common law that requires the exercise of due care.