11 N.W. 216 (Mich. 1882), Haas v. Grand Rapids & I.R. Co.

Citation:11 N.W. 216, 47 Mich. 401
Opinion Judge:[47 Mich. 403] COOLEY, J.
Attorney:[47 Mich. 402] Henry C. Briggs, for plaintiff in error. Hughes, O'Brien & Smiley, for defendant in error.
Case Date:January 11, 1882
Court:Supreme Court of Michigan

Page 216

11 N.W. 216 (Mich. 1882)

47 Mich. 401




Supreme Court of Michigan

January 11, 1882

         The failure to erect caution boards at railroad crossings as required by the statute does not necessarily make the railroad company responsible for damages occasioned by a collision with one of its trains at the crossing.

         The caution board is for the purpose of a notification to those who are passing along the road; and where a party is familiar with the crossing, and has frequently been over it, and had it in mind on the occasion in question as he approached it, he cannot be said to have been injured by the failure to set up the caution.

         The fact that the approach of a railroad to a highway crossing is obscured by embankments, or otherwise, imposes upon travelers by the highway as well as upon the railroad company special care to avoid collisions.

         A railroad company is not, as matter of law, under obligation to station a flagman at a road crossing in the country, because of the approach to it being partially concealed by embankments or otherwise.

         A team collided with a railway train at a road crossing, and the driver was killed. The railroad and the highway were both below the general surface of the ground, and an approaching train could only be seen occasionally by one driving towards the crossing. The driver was familiar with the crossing, but except that he checked his team for a moment some four rods from the crossing, he did not appear to have observed any precaution. The engine whistle was duly sounded when the crossing was approached. Held, that the driver of the team was chargeable with negligence directly contributing to the collision, and that no action would lie by his administrator against the railroad company.

         Error to Kalamazoo.

         [47 Mich. 402] Henry C. Briggs, for plaintiff in error.

         Hughes, O'Brien & Smiley, for defendant in error.

Page 217

         [47 Mich. 403] COOLEY, J.

         The plaintiff as administrator of the estate of Adrian Leenders, deceased, sued the railroad company for causing the death of his intestate by negligently running one of its trains so as to collide with his team while he was crossing its track in passing along the public highway. In the circuit court the case was taken from the jury by the instruction of the judge that they should return a verdict for the defendant. The instruction seems to have been given because in the opinion of the judge the declaration united two inconsistent causes of action, but as the plaintiff was suffered to put in all his evidence, if the case is fatally defective for any reason, it is immaterial whether the reason upon which the circuit judge acted was or was not the correct one.

         The defence insisted in the court below, and insist here, that the only negligence which was shown in the case was imputable to Leenders himself, who carelessly drove against the train though he had fair warning of its approach. This claim makes it necessary to examine the evidence, and fortunately the record shows very little conflict. The collision occurred at a road crossing about two miles south of Kalamazoo....

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