Choctaw Oklahoma Gulf Railroad Company v. Tennessee
United States Supreme Court
CHOCTAW OKLAHOMA GULF RAILROAD COMPANY v. TENNESSEE
Argued: November 10, 1903. --- Decided: November 30, 1903
The defendant in error commenced this action against the railroad company, plaintiff in error, in the Pulaski circuit court in the state of Arkansas, to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by him by reason of the alleged negligence of the company. He alleged in his complaint that on February 6, 1900, while engaged as head brakeman on a freight train of the defendant company, and while in the discharge of his duty as such, in the town of Argenta, near Little Rock, Arkansas, he attempted to jump upon the pilot of the engine of the train of which he was head brakeman, at a time when the engine was proceeding very slowly (about 4 miles an hour) in the freight yards. That in attempting to jump upon the pilot he stepped on an iron stirrup or step on the pilot or 'cow-catcher' of the engine, and where, in the performance of his duty, he was accustomed to step, and by reason of its being in a weak and unstable condition it gave way and precipitated him to the ground, where he became entangled in the ties of the railroad track, and the train ran over his left leg, and bruised and mangled the same so that he was compelled to have it amputated near the knee. He alleged that the defendant was negligent in the construction of the step, and was negligent in permitting it to stay in a faulty and infirm condition, and the condition of the step was unknown to the plaintiff; that he might have escaped uninjured but for the negligent construction of the track, the ties of which stood up above the ground, so that he was unable to get his foot out in time to prevent the engine from running over his leg and crushing it.
The defendant is a corporation organized and incorporated under an act of Congress, and on that ground removed the case into the United States district court in Arkansas, and thereafter served its answer to the complaint. It denied all negligence, and alleged that the plaintiff was attempting to step upon the front end of the engine, which was unnecessary and which was careless and improper on his part, and that he was not required in the discharge of his duty, nor was it necessary for him to attempt to so ride, and in attempting to do so he was violating the rules of the company. It denied that the step on the pilot was in a weak and unstable condition or that it gave way and thereby precipitated the plaintiff to the ground, and denied that the condition of the step had anything to do with the precipitation of the plaintiff to the ground, which resulted in his injury, and it denied that the condition of the step was unknown to the plaintiff.
Upon these issues the case came to trial and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff, which, upon appeal to the circuit court of appeals, was affirmed (53 C. C. A. 497, 116 Fed. 23), and the railroad company then sued out this writ of error.
Mr. Edward B. Peirce for plaintiff in error.
Messrs. John W. Blackwood, J. W. House, and J. E. Williams for defendant in error.
Statement by Mr. Justice Peckham:
Mr. Justice Peckham, after making the foregoing statement of facts, delivered the opinion of the court: