Henry J. Friendly and Benjamin Cardozo: A Tale of Two Precedents
Pace Law Review, Volume 31, Issue 2: Examining New York State Law
Judge Henry J. Friendly, who served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1959 to 1986, confronted two cases raising precisely the same issues that occupied Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo‟s attention forty years before, when he served on the New York Court of Appeals, the state‟s highest court. In 1923 Judge Cardozo wrote the court‟s opinion in Murray v. Cunard S.S. Co.,1 examining whether Cunard could avoid liability when a passenger with a claim against it failed to send it a notification or file suit within the time required by language printed on the passenger‟s ticket. Five years later, soon after he became chief judge of that court, Cardozo wrote the court‟s majority opinion in Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R.,2 “„[p]erhaps the most celebrated of all torts cases‟ and one of the best-known American common law cases of all time,”3 which concerned a railroad‟s liability for an arguably unforeseeable accident. Decades later, Friendly shed new light on Cardozo‟s venerable opinions.