39 F. 487 (D.Minn. 1889), Seese v. Northern Pac. R. Co.

Citation:39 F. 487
Case Date:July 16, 1889
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 487

39 F. 487 (D.Minn. 1889)




United States Circuit Court, D. Minnesota.

July 16, 1889

F. D. Larabee and J. C. Bullit, Jr., for the motion.

E. F. Lane, contra.


The action is to recover damages for a personal injury. The plaintiff was employed as a brakeman in the defendant's yard at Minneapolis, in this district, and while in the act of coupling cars sustained an injury to his hand, caused by the alleged defective condition of the draft timber which holds up the draw-head on one of the cars. There was evidence tending to show that the bolts that go into the dead-wood were sunk down into the timber and let the draw-head down four inches or more lower than it should be. There was also evidence tending to

Page 488

show the defect was old and not recent, and that the brakeman did not know of it. The plaintiff was ordered by the foreman in charge of the gang of yardmen to which he belonged to couple a car to the defective one. There was sufficient evidence of defendant's negligence to be submitted to the jury. The law given in the charge of the court on the trial defined clearly the obligation of the defendant, and the acceptance of risks and degree of care to be exercised by the plaintiff. The jury found for the plaintiff, and the verdict cannot be disturbed, for the reason urged by counsel that no negligence of the defendant which caused the injury is proved. King v. Railroad Co., 14 F. 281.

It is urged, however, that it was error for the court to exclude expert testimony in regard to the manner in which the evidence showed the plaintiff attempted to make the coupling. A yard-master, who had been in the service of switching and coupling cars for 19 years, was called as an expert, and the defendant's counsel offered 'to prove by the witness that the method of making a coupling of freight-cars with link and pin, as were used on this occasion, when the plaintiff was injured, at the time of day or night when this coupling was attempted to be made by him, was extremely dangerous and careless and injudicious, and not the usual or ordinary way or the best way of making a coupling under the circumstances. ' Also, 'to prove that the manner in which he (plaintiff) undertook to make it at the time he received his injury was an improper way, and a very negligent and careless one, and one that a man might very naturally expect to receive an...

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