239 U.S. 548 (1916), 167, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company v. Wright

Docket Nº:No. 167
Citation:239 U.S. 548, 36 S.Ct. 185, 60 L.Ed. 431
Party Name:Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company v. Wright
Case Date:January 10, 1916
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 548

239 U.S. 548 (1916)

36 S.Ct. 185, 60 L.Ed. 431

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company



No. 167

United States Supreme Court

January 10, 1916

Argued November 30, 1915




Taking an engine from one state to another, although only for repairs, is an act of interstate commerce. North Carolina R. Co. v. Zachary, 232 U.S. 259.

Where the employee sustains injury while the company was engaged in interstate commerce and he was employed in such commerce, the responsibility of the company is governed by the Federal Employers' Liability Act, which is exclusive and supersedes state laws upon the same subject, and it is error to submit the case to the jury as if the state laws were controlling. Wabash R. Co. v. Hayes, 234 U.S. 86.

Error which is not prejudicial affords no ground for reversal, and where, as in this case, it appears that the employer was not prejudiced by the difference between the Federal Employers' Liability Act which did control, and the Nebraska Law on that subject which had been superseded by the federal Act, the judgment should not be reversed.

No prejudice can result to an employer from instructions being more favorable in regard to contributory negligence under the state law than if they had been given under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, which controlled, and the giving of instructions under the state law under such circumstances does not deny defendant a federal right.

The evidence in this case as to the existence and constructions of, and compliance with, rules in regard to speed of engines within the yard limits justified the submission of the question of negligence to the jury.

96 Neb. 87 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a verdict and judgment under the Employers' Liability Act, are stated in the opinion.

Page 549

VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This was an action against a railroad company by personal representatives to recover for the death of their intestate, an employee of the company resulting from a collision of two locomotives on the company's railroad at Lincoln, Nebraska. One of the locomotives was a switch engine returning to the city from an adjacent transfer track, and the other a road engine on the way to a distant repair shop. The former was in charge of a switching crew, and the latter of an engine crew in which the intestate was the engineer. At the place of the collision, the track is in a deep and curved cut which shortens the view along the track. The causal negligence set up in the petition included allegations that [36 S.Ct. 186] the defendant negligently failed to provide a suitable rule regulating the speed and movement of switch engines through the cut; that the switch engine was being run through the cut at a negligent, reckless, and dangerous rate of speed, and without its engineer having it under control, and that, when the employees in charge of it came within view of the other engine, they negligently jumped to the ground without reversing their engine or attempting to stop it, notwithstanding it reasonably and safely could have been stopped in time to prevent the collision. The answer denied all that was alleged in the petition, and charged the intestate with gross contributory negligence and an assumption of the risk. The petition described the road engine as moving from one point to another in Nebraska, and said nothing about interstate commerce, but the answer alleged that this engine was being taken to a point in another state, and that the defendant was engaged and the intestate was employed in interstate commerce. At the trial, the evidence disclosed that the defendant was operating a railroad extending through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and other

Page 550

states; that the road engine was on the way from Phillipsburg, Kansas, to Council Bluffs, Iowa; that the train order under which the intestate was proceeding at the time read, "Engine 1486 will run extra Fairbury to Albright," both points being in Nebraska, and that, when Albright was reached, another order was to be...

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