148 N.Y. 372, Knisley v. Pratt

Citation:148 N.Y. 372
Party Name:SARAH KNISLEY, Respondent, v. PASCAL P. PRATT et al., Appellants.
Case Date:February 18, 1896
Court:New York Court of Appeals

Page 372

148 N.Y. 372

SARAH KNISLEY, Respondent,


PASCAL P. PRATT et al., Appellants.

New York Court of Appeal

February 18, 1896

Argued January 10, 1896.

Page 373


John G. Milburn for appellants. The risk in cleaning the machine with the cog wheels unguarded, as they were during the entire period of her service, was obvious and known to the plaintiff, and was, therefore, assumed by her. (Wright v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 25 N.Y. 566; Gibson v. Erie R. Co., 63 N.Y. 452; De Forest v. Jewett, 88 N.Y. 264; Powers v. N.Y. L. E. & W. R. R. Co., 98 N.Y. 274; Marsh v. Chickering, 101 N.Y. 396; Sweeney v. B. & J. E. Co., 101 N.Y. 520; Shaw v. Sheldon, 103 N.Y. 667; Hickey v. Taaffe, 105 N.Y. 26; Appel v. B., N.Y. & P. R. Co., 111 N.Y. 550; Buckley v. G. P. & R. Manufacturing Co., 113 N.Y. 540; Williams v. D., L. & W. R. R. Co., 116 N.Y. 628; Crown v. Orr, 140 N.Y. 450; Laws of 1886, chap. 409; Laws of 1887, chap. 462, § § 16, 20; Laws of 1889, chap. 560; Laws of 1890, chap. 398, § § 10, 13; Laws of 1892, chap. 673; Holland on Juris. 280; Willy v. Mulledy, 78 N.Y. 310; Freeman v. G. F. P. M. Co., 70 Hun, 530; 142 N.Y. 639; White v. W. L. Co., 131 N.Y. 631; O'Maley v. S. B. G. L. Co., 158 Mass. 135; Goodridge v. W. M. Co., 160 Mass. 234; Britton v. G. W. C. Co., L. R. [7 Ex.] 130;

Page 374

Blamires v. Ry. Co., L. R. [ 8 Ex.] 288, 289; Caswell v. Worth, 5 E. & B. 855; McRickard v. Flint, 114 N.Y. 222.) No question of negligence on the part of the defendant was raised by the fact that there was no shifter for moving the belt, or that the machinery was cleaned when in motion. (Laws of 1890, chap. 398, § 12; Laws of 1887, chap. 462, § 11.)

Day & Romer for respondent. Plaintiff is entitled to the benefit of every fact that the jury could have found from the evidence given, and to every legitimate inference warranted by the proofs. (McNally v. P. Ins. Co., 137 N.Y. 389.) The rule is unqualified that a master is bound to use all reasonable care, diligence and caution in providing for the safety of those in his employ, and furnish for their use in his work safe, sound and suitable tools, implements, appliances and machinery in the prosecution thereof, and keep the same in repair. (Benzing v. Steinway, 101 N.Y. 547; McGovern v. C. V. R. R. Co., 123 N.Y. 280.) The failure to perform a duty imposed by statute, when, as the consequence, an injury results to another, is evidence upon the question of negligence of the party charged with such failure. (McRickard v. Flint, 114 N.Y. 222; Laws of 1890, chap. 398; Laws of 1886, chap. 409; McLoughlin v. Annfield, 12 N.Y.S. 164; Koster v. Noonan, 8 Daly, 233; Pauley v. S. G. & L. Co., 131 N.Y. 90; Willy v. Mulledy, 78 N.Y. 310; Clark v. Holmes, 7 H. & N. 937; Hough v. R. R. Co., 100 U.S. 213; R. R. Co. v. Spangler, 44 Ohio St. 471; Tiedman on Lim. 255, § 98; Runt v. Herring, 21 N.Y.S. 244; Purdy v. R., W. & O. R. R. Co., 125 N.Y. 209; White v. Parker, 8 Barb. 48.)


The plaintiff seeks to recover damages for loss of her left arm, caused by the alleged negligence of the defendants, who were the proprietors of a hardware factory where plaintiff was employed at the time of the accident in operating what is known as a 'punching machine.'

Page 375

A person using this machine is seated at a bench, the top of which is about thirty-two inches from the floor and covered with plank about five inches in thickness. The machine is about twenty-two inches wide and four feet high, with an iron bed plate bolted to the bench. Two iron posts four feet high, connected at the top by an iron cross piece, make a substantial frame for the machine.

Near the top is a shaft passing through the posts on one end of which is a drum and belt connecting with shafting; on the other end are a small cog wheel, about seven inches in diameter, running close to the frame and outside of it, and a large fly wheel.

Immediately under this shaft is another shaft having a cog wheel about two feet in diameter, which is operated from the cog wheel on the upper shaft.

In the center of the lower shaft is an iron rod to which is attached a punch, arranged on an eccentric so that the revolution of the shaft causes the punch to lift and lower sixty times per minute.

There was no shifter to throw off the belt so as to stop the machine and the cog wheels were unguarded.

The plaintiff, the machine being in motion, was engaged in cleaning it, which consisted in rubbing the dirt and oil off the punch and uprights with a piece of waste held in her left hand, and in some way her hand was caught between the cog...

To continue reading