189 U.S. 468 (1903), 224, Texas & Pacific Railway Company v. Behymer

Docket NºNo. 224
Citation189 U.S. 468, 23 S.Ct. 622, 47 L.Ed. 905
Party NameTexas & Pacific Railway Company v. Behymer
Case DateApril 20, 1903
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 468

189 U.S. 468 (1903)

23 S.Ct. 622, 47 L.Ed. 905

Texas & Pacific Railway Company



No. 224

United States Supreme Court

April 20, 1903

Argued March 20, April 6, 1903




In an action for personal injuries sustained by a brakeman by falling from a car, where the claim was based upon negligence in stopping the car suddenly with knowledge of his position and of the slippery condition of the roof of the car and also upon the projection of a nail in the roof of the car which increased the danger and contributed to his fall, held, there was no error in the court's declining to rule that the chance of such an accident was one of the risks assumed by the plaintiff, or that the question whether the defendant was liable depended on whether the freight train was handled in the usual and ordinary way. It was proper for the court to leave it to the jury to say whether the train was handled with due care.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court.

HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action for personal injuries brought by an employee against a railroad company. It was tried in the circuit court, where the plaintiff had a verdict. It then was taken to the circuit court of appeals on a writ of error and bill of exceptions

Page 469

by the company, and now is brought here on a further writ of error, the company being a United States corporation. A good deal of the argument for the railroad is devoted to disputing the testimony of the plaintiff below and arguing that the verdict was excessive, but, of course, we have nothing to do with that. New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad v. Winter, 143 U.S. 60, 75; Lincoln v. Power, 151 U.S. 436. We must assume the most favorable statement of the plaintiff's case to be true unless some particular request for instructions makes it necessary to deal with conflicting evidence. That statement may be made in a few words.

Behymer had been in the employ of the company as a brakeman about three months. On February 7, 1899 at Big Sandy, in Texas, he was ordered by the conductor of a local freight train to get up on some cars standing on a siding and let off the brakes, so that the engine might move them to the main track and add them to the train. The tops of the cars were covered with ice, as all concerned knew. He obeyed orders; the engine picked up the cars, moved to the main track, and stopped suddenly. The cars ran forward to the extent of the slack and back again, as they were moving up hill. The jerk upset Behymer's balance, the bottom of his trousers caught in a projecting nail in the running board, and he was thrown between the cars. It is true that the jury might have drawn a different conclusion from his evidence, or have disbelieved it in essential points, but they also were at liberty to find, as they must be taken to have found, that...

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