19 N.W. 744 (Mich. 1884), Lewis v. Flint & P.M. Ry. Co.

Citation:19 N.W. 744, 54 Mich. 55
Opinion Judge:COOLEY, C.J.
Party Name:LEWIS v. FLINT & P.M. RY. CO.
Attorney:[54 Mich. 56] Blodgett & Patchin and C.I. Walker, for appellant. Wisner & Draper and Wm. L. Webber, for appellee.
Case Date:June 11, 1884
Court:Supreme Court of Michigan

Page 744

19 N.W. 744 (Mich. 1884)

54 Mich. 55




Supreme Court of Michigan

June 11, 1884

Plaintiff, in the night-time, took passage on the caboose attached to a freight train on defendant's road, to be carried to a flag station, where he expected to get off and walk by the highway for some distance into the country. The night was dark, and the station-house was not kept open in the night, and was not lighted. The train passed the station a little before stopping. When plaintiff got off he could not see the station-house and the conductor told him he was about two car lengths beyond it. Plaintiff said if that was all it made no difference, as he had to go that way to the highway. He started along the track towards the highway, as he supposed, and, if he was where he supposed he was, he would have to cross a cattle-guard to reach it. He had crossed this cattle-guard before, and sometimes found a timber or plank over it. He soon discovered, however, that he had been left beyond the highway, and he turned about to go back to it. To reach it he would be obliged to cross a cattle-guard on that side. He knew this, and was proceeding cautiously, intending when he reached the cattle-guard to step down into it, and out on the other side, unless he should find timber or plank laid across it. Coming to the brink of it he saw indistinctly what he took to be the cattle-guard some paces off, and, stepping forward, his foot slipped, and he fell into it and was seriously injured. For this injury he brought suit, counting upon the negligence of defendant in carrying him past the station, and in misinforming him as to where he was. Held, that the negligence of defendant was not the proximate cause of the injury; it was only the cause of plaintiff being placed where, through another occurrence happening unexpectedly and without fault, an injury befell him.

Cases involving questions of proximate and remote cause considered.

The proximate cause of the injury in this case was pure accident, and in such a case the law leaves the consequence to rest where they have chanced to fall.

Error to Wayne. Plaintiff brings error.

[54 Mich. 56] Blodgett & Patchin and C.I. Walker, for appellant.

Wisner & Draper and Wm. L. Webber, for appellee.


Action to recover damages for a personal injury. The facts as they appeared on the trial were as follows:

The plaintiff resides in the township of Huron, a few miles east of Belden station, on the road of defendant. He was at Wayne station on the evening of January 12, 1883, awaiting the train which was to go south past Belden in the night. The train left Wayne at 3:05 in the morning of the 13th, and [54 Mich. 57] he procured his ticket and took passage for Belden, where the train was due at 3:30. The night was dark, cold, and wet. The train stopped when "Belden" was called, and plaintiff got off. Belden was only a flag station for this train, and there was no one in charge of the station-house, and no light there. When plaintiff got off the train he was told by the brakeman or conductor that they had run by the station about two car lengths, and he replied that if that was all, it was no matter, as he had to go that way. An east and west highway crosses the railroad about 24 rods south of the station-house, which the plaintiff would take in going to his home. If he was two car lengths beyond the station-house, he would still be north of the highway; and, supposing that to be the case, he followed the track along south, in preference to going back to the station-house, from which a passage east of the track would have led him to the highway. The plaintiff knew the place well, and knew that on the track he must cross an open cattle-guard to reach the highway. He had crossed this before, and sometimes found a plank laid over it. Passing on he soon came to trees which he knew were some distance south of the highway, and he then knew the information given him as to where he was when he alighted from the train was erroneous. He turned about to retrace his steps, and followed the track in the direction of the highway. This he did carefully, because it was very dark, and he knew there was an open cattle-guard on the south side of the highway, as well as on the north side. He was looking for this cattle-guard constantly and carefully. There were burning kilns near to the track on his right, and the smoke from these affected his eyes, but he saw a switch light, which he knew was near the crossing, but

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which at the time was too dim to aid him. He continued to approach the cattle-guard carefully, intending, if there was a timber or plank over it, to cross upon that; and if not, then to pass down into it and climb out. In the dim light he saw what he believed to be the cattle-guard, which seemed to be several paces off, but at the very next step one foot slipped, and as he attempted to save himself by springing upon the other, the other foot caught, and [54 Mich. 58] he was precipitated into the cattle-guard, and received an injury of a very serious and permanent nature. He was for a time senseless, but then succeeded in drawing himself out by his elbows,--not being able to use his lower limbs,--and with great difficulty he reached a neighboring tavern, where he was cared for.

On the trial a claim was made on the part of the defense that the plaintiff was negligent in following the railroad track back to the cattle-guard, and in attempting to cross it, and evidence was given to show that he would have encountered no empediments. But, in such a night as this was, it is not clear...

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