135 Mass. 294 (Mass. 1883), Wheeler v. Wason Mfg. Co.

Citation:135 Mass. 294
Opinion Judge:C. Allen J.
Party Name:James Wheeler v. Wason Manufacturing Company
Attorney:N. A. Leonard & G. Wells, for the defendant. G. M. Stearns, for the plaintiff.
Judge Panel:C. Allen J. W. Allen J., absent.
Case Date:September 08, 1883
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 294

135 Mass. 294 (Mass. 1883)

James Wheeler


Wason Manufacturing Company

Supreme Court of Massachusetts

September 8, 1883

Hampden. Tort, for personal injuries occasioned to the plaintiff while operating a circular saw in the defendant's employ. At the trial in the Superior Court, before Knowlton, J., the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff; and the defendant alleged exceptions. The facts appear in the opinion.

Exceptions overruled.

N. A. Leonard & G. Wells, for the defendant.

G. M. Stearns, for the plaintiff.

C. Allen J. W. Allen J., absent.


Page 295

C. Allen J.

The presiding judge properly refused to rule that, upon all the evidence in the case, the jury would not be warranted in finding that the saw was in an unsafe or improper condition. The general duty of a master who employs a servant upon dangerous machinery, like a circular saw, to take all reasonable precautions for the safety of the servant, is not denied, or open to doubt. The question in this case was, whether the defendant had performed this duty. We cannot say, as matter of law, that the fact that such saws are ordinarily used without a guard, is conclusive to show that a saw without a guard is in a safe and proper condition for a workman as inexperienced as the plaintiff was. There was evidence tending to show that boards while being sawed sometimes spring back, and that it is customary to put the hand behind the saw to steady a board which becomes unsteady in sawing; so that, if the board springs back under such circumstances, it is liable to bring the hand of the workman directly upon the saw. This is the way in which the accident in the present case appears to have happened. There was evidence, not only on the part of the plaintiff, but on the part of the defendant, tending to show that it is practicable, in sawing boards into strips, and in some other kinds of work, to have a guard, of about the thickness of the saw, so placed and adjusted behind the saw as to furnish a great protection in case of the board jumping back when the hand is behind the saw. It was also admitted bye the defendant that there was a guard which belonged to this saw, as a part of the equipment of the machine,

Page 296

and which was kept about it, and which was used with the saw or not, as suited the convenience of the workmen; and there was evidence, apparently from the...

To continue reading