150 Mass. 467 (1890), Babcock v. Old Colony R. Co.

Citation:150 Mass. 467, 23 N.E. 325
Opinion Judge:KNOWLTON, J.
Attorney:[23 N.E. 326] R.M. Morse, Jr., and Marcus Morton, Jr., for plaintiff. J.H. Benton, Jr., for defendant.
Case Date:January 02, 1890
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 467

150 Mass. 467 (1890)

23 N.E. 325




Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

January 2, 1890


Page 471

[23 N.E. 326] R.M. Morse, Jr., and Marcus Morton, Jr., for plaintiff.

J.H. Benton, Jr., for defendant.



The plaintiff, at the time of the accident, was engaged in the performance of his duty. He had a right to expect that the defendant's track would be free from such obstructions as that which caused his injury. He testified at the trial that he did not know the sleepers were there, and did not remember of ever having seen them until he was hurt. If he had never noticed them, or if he had seen them and at the time of the accident failed to remember that they were there, we think it was a question for the jury whether he was in the exercise of due care.

The defendant contends that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the defendant. A pile of railroad sleepers had been left within seventeen or eighteen inches of the rails, and the yard-master testified that they had been allowed to remain there five weeks. Other witnesses said they had been there only two or three days. It is the duty of a railroad corporation to use reasonable care and diligence to keep its tracks in a safe condition for its employes to work upon. So far as the work of keeping its tracks in repair is left to its servants it is its duty to exercise reasonable supervision to see that the work intrusted to them is properly done. How far into details this supervision must go before the domain which belongs exclusively to the master is passed, and the domain which may be left to servants is entered, depends upon what is reasonable to require of a master who is charged with the duty of providing safe works, machinery, tools, and appliances for his employes. In some cases this may be a difficult question to decide. But undoubtedly a jury may find that a railroad corporation should so far supervise the work of its servants, in repairing its tracks, as to see that a pile of sleepers three or four feet wide is not left for a long time within eighteen inches of the rails, in the freight-yard of an important station. The condition of the road, under the circumstances shown, was evidence of negligence of the defendant corporation. Snow v. Railroad Co., 8 Allen, 441; Holden v. Railroad Co. 129 Mass. 268...

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