47 F. 204 (D.S.C. 1891), Russell v. Richmond & D. R. Co.

Citation:47 F. 204
Party Name:RUSSELL v. RICHMOND & D.R. CO.
Case Date:August 14, 1891
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 204

47 F. 204 (D.S.C. 1891)

RUSSELL

v.

RICHMOND & D.R. CO.

United States Circuit Court, D. South Carolina.

August 14, 1891

Where a railroad company by rule forbids its brakemen going between freight cars to couple them, and provides that coupling must be done by means of a stick, the company is not liable for the death of a brakeman who, in consideration of employment by the company, signed a written recognition of such rule, waiving all liability of the company to him, for any results of disobedience thereof, when it appears that he understood what he was signing, that the company had provided coupling sticks for the train, and that the death was the result of disobedience of the rule.

Plaintiff's intestate, a brakeman on the railroad of defendant, was crushed to death between the cars on 12th February, 1890. He was brakeman on a freight train which had stopped at Westminster, in this state, and was on the siding, awaiting a passenger train. The train had been divided so as not to obstruct a crossing, and a car at the inner end of the division was loaded with lumber, with pieces projecting over this end of the car. When the passenger train passed, and the freight train was to be reunited, the intestate went to couple the cars. He went in between the two divisions without a stick, and, the locomotive backing down the front end of the train, he was caught and killed instantly. The testimony of plaintiff tended to show that the coupling gear was defective, and the mode of loading the car with lumber improper and dangerous, and that after the accident there was some neglect of the body. For the defense there was given in evidence the following paper, signed by the intestate on 24th January, 1890:

'RICHMOND AND DANVILLE RAILROAD COMPANY, A & C. DIVISION.

'ATLANTA, GA., Jan. 24th, 1890.

'I fully understand that the rules of the Richmond & Danville R. R. Company positively prohibit brakemen from coupling or uncoupling cars, except with a stick, and that brakemen or others must not go between cars, under any circumstances, for the purpose of coupling or uncoupling, or for adjusting pins, etc., when an engine is attached to such cars or train; and, in consideration of being employed by said company, I hereby agree to be bound by said rule, and waived all or any liability of said company to me for any results of disobedience or infraction thereof.

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