32 N.E. 285 (Ill. 1892), Pullman's Palace Car Co. v. Laack

Citation:32 N.E. 285, 143 Ill. 242
Opinion Judge:[143 Ill. 251] SHOPE, J., ( after stating the facts.)
Attorney:[143 Ill. 250] J. S. Runnells and William Burry, for appellant. [143 Ill. 251] E. Furthmann, for appellee.
Case Date:October 31, 1892
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

Page 285

32 N.E. 285 (Ill. 1892)

143 Ill. 242




Supreme Court of Illinois

October 31, 1892

Appeal from appellate court, first district.

Action on the case by William Laack against the Pullman's Palace Car Company to recover damages for personal injuries. Plaintiff obtained judgment, which was affirmed by the appellate court. Defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Page 287

[143 Ill. 250] J. S. Runnells and William Burry, for appellant.

[143 Ill. 251] E. Furthmann, for appellee.

Page 286

The other facts fully appear in the following statement by SHOPE, J.:

[143 Ill. 245] This was an action on the case by appellee against appellant, to recover for personal injury alleged to have been received through the negligence of appellant. For several years before the accident, appellant had been engaged in burning brick, and appellee worked as its servant in that business. In 1887 appellant commenced burning brick with crude oil for fuel, and appellee, before his injury, had assisted in burning several kilns of brick by the new method. In May, 1888, shortly after the kiln was fired, the injury occurred. The kiln then being burned was 70 or 80 feet long and [143 Ill. 246] about 30 feet wide; there were 18 or 20 arches running through from side to side. Around the kiln, a little way from it, near the ground, two pipes were laid side by side, each about two inches in diameter. One of these pipes carried steam, and the other oil for fuel. Opposite the end of each arch, two short pipes, three fourths of an inch in diameter, extended towards the arch, one connected with the oil pipe, and the other the steam pipe. The short steam pipe was about two feet and a half long; the small oil pipe perhaps a foot long. On the end of the steam pipe, at each arch, was placed what was known as the 'burner.' In the small oil pipes there was a check valve or stopcock, near the main oil pipe, and the connection was made between this pipe and the burner by a rubber tube connecting the short pipe with the burner. The purpose for which the rubber was used was to permit expansion and contraction of the small steam pipe; in other words, so as to make the pipe containing the oil flexible. The burner was by this means extended, not into, but as near, the arch as possible, and the oil injected into the arch by the action of the steam through the burner. On a side track, 20 feet or more away from the kiln, common railroad oil tanks were run on their trucks, and the oil carried therefrom by means of a two-inch pipe, and emptied into the oil pipe surrounding the kiln. Prior to the time of the accident, but one tank had been used at a time, and the supply pipe from the tank was fitted with a check valve near its entrance into the feed pipe, or the pipe encircling the kiln. Each of the small pipes extending from the steam and feed pipes were supplied with a stopcock near the feed pipe, so that both steam and oil could be shut off from any individual burner. There was also a check valve on the tank, by closing which the flow of oil from the tank could be shut off. This valve was so arranged that it could not be turned by hand, but necessarily required the use of a wrench or tongs.

[143 Ill. 247] In the afternoon before the accident, the kiln being in condition to fire, Williams, the kiln foreman, was ordered by appellant, through its superintendent, to out the feed pipe in the middle of the kiln on each side, and stop the ends, which was done. Prior to this, there had been in use what was known as the Brown burner. They were directed to attach the Brown burner to one half of the feed pipe, or the pipe encircling one half the kiln, which appellee and the gang of men with him, under the direction of the steam fitter of appellant, did. By the cutting of the oil pipe, the circulation of oil around the kiln was impossible, and, to supply the other end, another tank was run upon the side track, and attached, by a new supply pipe, with the other half of the feed pipe, so as to furnish oil to run the other burners to be thereto attached. The purpose was to test the relative merits of the Brown burner, and another called the Cannon burner, to see which would consume the greater amount of oil in producing the requisite continued heat. The attachment between the additional tank and the pipe surrounding the half of the kiln at which the Cannon burners were to be tested, including putting on the burners, was made by 'Mr. Cannon and his men,' possibly assisted by Mr. Williams, kiln foreman, and perhaps other fellow workmen about the kiln. Cannon had been a gas fitter, was familiar with the work, but neither he nor the men under him were in the employ of appellant. In making connection between the tank and the feed pipe encircling the half of the kiln at which the Cannon burners were put, no stopcock or valve was put in where the supply pipe from the tank joined the feed pipe, so that the oil running to the Cannon burners could be shut off only at two points,--at the tank, and at the small stopcocks whore the small burner pipes joined the feed pipe. At the other end, the supply pipe formerly in use was put in, which was supplied with the check valve near the feed pipe. This arrangement of the pipe to which the Cannon burners were attached was made by Cannon,[143 Ill. 248] and, as before said, possibly with the knowledge of the foreman; but appellee, nor the gang of men with whom he worked, had no notice that the stopcock at the joining of the supply and feed pipes had been omitted. The rubber pipe leading to the burner, from the heat and action of the oil, was soon destroyed, and would break or crack off, permitting the oil to escape, and the oil, being highly inflammable, would catch fire from the heat of the arch, and prevent the close of the small check valve in the pipe leading to the burner; and in such case the stopcock at the junction of the supply and feed pipes had always been used, and, by shutting off the oil there, a conflagration was prevented. This condition of things was known to appellant, and it had supplied rubber tubing in considerable quantities to take the place of such as might be destroyed in that way. It is shown that the breaking of the rubber and escape of the oil was frequent, the rubber lasting sometimes during the burning of a kiln and sometimes not.

The kiln was fired in the evening. Appellee and the gang of men under him were in charge of the end of the kiln to which the old or Brown burners were fixed, and Williams and another shift of men in charge of the other end, until about 12 o'clock midnight, when Williams and his gang retired, and appellee and two helpers took charge of the entire kiln. About 4 o'clock in the morning appellee was on a ladder at the side of the kiln, observing the top, when a rubber hose, connecting with one of the Cannon burners, burst, and the oil immediately took fire, and, extending, so covered the small stopcock that it was impossible to close it. He ran immediately to the place where the supply pipe joined the feed pipe, expecting to find the stopcock, where it had always previously been found, but found none. He called to the other employes, and went himself about 200 feet, and turned in the fire alarm, and immediately returned to the end of the kiln where the fire was spreading. The fire was spreading rapidly, [143 Ill. 249] was very hot, and, fearing an explosion of the oil in the tank, appellee determined to disconnect the tank from the supply pipe, and get it way from the fire. For this purpose he directed one of the men to shut off the tank; that is, to close the valve between the tank and the supply pipe. One of the men went onto the tank for that purpose, and again got off. Appellee inquired if the valve had been closed, and one of the men replied that it had. He again inquired, and, upon being assured that it had been closed, he went under the tank, disconnected the feed pipe from the tank, when the oil from the tank flowed over him, and...

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