Johnson v. Southern Pacific Company

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

196 U.S. 1

Johnson  v.  Southern Pacific Company

 Argued: October 31, 1904. --- Decided: December 19, 1904

Johnson brought this action in the district court of the first judicial district of Utah against the Southern Pacific Company to recover damages for injuries received while employed by that company as a brakeman. The case was removed to the circuit court of the United States for the district of Utah by defendant on the ground of diversity of citizenship.

The facts were briefly these: August 5, 1900, Johnson was acting as head brakeman on a freight train of the Southern Pacific Company, which was making its regular trip between San Francisco, California, and Ogden, Utah. On reaching the town of Promontory, Utah, Johnson was directed to uncouple the engine from the train and couple it to a dining car, belonging to the company, which was standing on a side track, for the purpose of turning the car around preparatory to its being picked up and put on the next westbound passenger train. The engine and the dining car were equipped, respectively, with the Janney coupler and the Miller hook, so called, which would not couple together automatically by impact, and it was, therefore, necessary for Johnson, and he was ordered, to go between the engine and the dining car, to accomplish the coupling. In so doing Johnson's hand was caught between the engine bumper and the dining car bumper, and crushed, which necessitated amputation of the hand above the wrist.

On the trial of the case, defendant, after plaintiff had rested, moved the court to instruct the jury to find in its favor, which motion was granted, and the jury found a verdict accordingly, on which judgment was entered. Plaintiff carried the case to the circuit court of appeals for the eighth Circuit, and the judgment was affirmed. 54 C. C. A. 508, 117 Fed. 462.

Messrs. W. L. Maginnis, L. A. Shaver, and John M. Gitterman for petitioner and plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 2-7 intentionally omitted]

Solicitor General Hoyt and Attorney General Moody for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 7-10 intentionally omitted]

Messrs. Maxwell Evarts, Martin L. Clardy, and Henry G. Herbel for respondent and defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 10-13 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).