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A disregard of the command of a statute is a wrongful act, and where it results in damage to one of the class for whose special benefit the statute is enacted, the right to recover the damages from the party in default is implied. In every case, where a statute enacts, or prohibits a thing for the benefit of a person, he shall have a remedy upon the same statute for the thing enacted for his advantage, or for the recompense of a wrong done to him contrary to the said law. This is but an application of the maxim, Ubi jus ibi remedium.
Plaintiff employee was injured through a defect in a hand hold or grab iron forming one of the rungs of a ladder on a box car which he was descending after having set a brake operated from the roof of such car. Defendant carrier was held liable for the damages sustained by the plaintiff under the Federal Safety Appliance Act (Act). On appeal, defendant contended that the Act was not applicable as plaintiff was not coupling or uncoupling cars at the time of the injury.
Could the defendant be held liable for plaintiff’s injury under the Federal Safety Appliance Act?
The court reviewed the Federal Safety Appliance Act and determined that plaintiff's injuries fell within the special protection afforded under the Act. The court also determined that the scope of the legislation was broad enough to include all employees injured irrespective of the character of the commerce in which they were engaged. Further, plaintiff's knowledge of the defect did not relieve defendant's liability. As plaintiff's injury was directly attributable to the defect in the ladder, the court affirmed that plaintiff was entitled to recover under the Act.