Reetz v. Chicago & ER Co., No. 5596.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtDENISON and HICKS, Circuit , and SIMONS
Citation46 F.2d 50
Docket NumberNo. 5596.
Decision Date06 January 1931
PartiesREETZ v. CHICAGO & E. R. CO.

46 F.2d 50 (1931)

REETZ
v.
CHICAGO & E. R. CO.

No. 5596.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

January 6, 1931.


C. J. Gugler, of Galion, Ohio (J. W. McCarron, of Cleveland, Ohio, on the brief), for appellant.

B. D. Holt, of Cleveland, Ohio (Cook, McGowan, Foote, Bushnell & Burgess, of Cleveland, Ohio, on the brief), for appellee.

Before DENISON and HICKS, Circuit Judges, and SIMONS, District Judge.

SIMONS, District Judge.

Appellant's decedent, Gustav T. Reetz, was a freight conductor on appellee's railroad, and as such in charge of a train operating from Huntington, Ind., to Chicago. At a point near Bolivar, Ind., the train parted due to the breaking of couplers and drawbars, this breaking the air line and bringing the train to a stop. Reetz and O'Dier, the brakeman, were at the time in the caboose. The track at this point runs east and west, the train being headed west. Reetz and O'Dier secured their lanterns and started westwardly along the train on the north side, endeavoring to locate and remedy the trouble and get the train under way, O'Dier being about fifty feet ahead of Reetz. At a point where the train had stopped and some distance west of the caboose, there is a bridge over a driveway. With cars standing on the bridge the space between the north side of the train and the edge of the bridge was narrow. There was no passageway or guard railings along the north side of the track at the bridge, and no means provided for a pedestrian to pass along the bridge on the north side of a standing train. Before O'Dier reached this subway he crossed over the train to the south side, and after crossing the bridge he again crossed to the north side, and not observing Reetz's light came back to the subway and found that Reetz had fallen to the driveway below, a distance of approximately fifteen feet. Reetz received injuries which resulted in his death. The claims of negligence are: (1) That the absence of a footpath and guard railings along the abutments of the bridge was a violation by defendant of its duty to provide the plaintiff with a safe place in which to work. (2) That the defendant violated the provisions of the Safety Appliance Act, United States Code, Title 45, sections 1 to 16 (45 USCA § 1-16), Act of 1893, as amended in 1910, by operating a train with defective couplers and drawbars. At the close of plaintiff's evidence the court sustained a motion directing a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.

1. With respect to the first claim of negligence it is sufficient to say that there is nothing in the record to indicate that the defendant was in any way negligent either in the method of constructing the bridge or in the way that it was maintained. The bridge was of modern design, in good condition and repair, and similar to other bridges on defendant's railroad. There is no evidence that guard railings or footpaths are used in the construction of railroad bridges in open country, and even were we to assume that the absence of such footpath and guard railings constituted negligence, there is nothing in the record to indicate that their absence was the proximate cause of the injury, since it is not known just how or from what point Reetz fell into the subway. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company v. Koske, 279 U. S. 7, 49 S. Ct. 202, 73 L. Ed. 578; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad v. Coogan, 271 U. S. 472, 46 S. Ct. 564, 70 L. Ed. 1041; Howe v. Michigan Central Railroad, 236 Mich. 577, 211 N. W. 111.

46 F.2d 51

2. In respect to the second claim of negligence, the failure of the defendant to comply with the provisions of the Safety Appliance Act, it is conceded that the train was being operated upon a highway of Interstate Commerce, that the train stopped at the place of the injury because of the failure of one or more of the appliances which the defendant was obliged to install and maintain under the act, and that injury followed. The only question in dispute is as to whether the failure of the drawbar and couplers was the proximate cause of the injury.

Cases have frequently been before the courts wherein upon conceded or established facts the absence or failure of a required appliance was followed in point of time by injury, and wherein the placing of liability rested upon a correct determination as to whether the fact of absence or failure of the appliance bore a causal relation to the fact of injury. If from the earlier cases construing the statute there was any difficulty experienced in apprehending the applicable rules for determining whether upon a given state of facts there existed between fault and injury a relation of cause and effect, that difficulty has now been resolved, and the law is, we think, clear. In the case of Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U. S. 239, 44 S. Ct. 64, 66, 68 L. Ed. 284, where recovery was upheld, the late Mr. Justice Sanford had occasion to review the more important Supreme Court decisions upon the question, and to point out the rule as it had up to that time been developed in the cases of St. Louis & S. F. Railroad Company v. Conarty, 238 U. S. 243, 35 S. Ct. 785, 59 L. Ed. 1290, and Lang v. New York Central Railroad, 255 U. S. 455, 41 S....

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18 practice notes
  • Green v. River Terminal Ry. Co., No. 84-3401
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 10, 1985
    ...an efficient cause of or the instrumentality through which the injury is directly brought about." Reetz v. Chicago & Erie Railroad Co., 46 F.2d 50, 52 (6th Cir.1931); Anderson v. Baltimore & Ohio Railway Co., 89 F.2d 629, 630-31 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 302 U.S. 696-97, 58 S.Ct. 14, 82 L.Ed......
  • Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Evans, MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 25, 1952
    ...perform when applied. See Coray v. Southern Pacific Co., 335 U.S. 520, 69 S.Ct. 275, 93 L.Ed. 208; Reetz v. Chicago & E. Ry. Co., 6 Cir., 46 F.2d 50. The 'force' of the broken hose (as the word force is used in the literature of proximate cause) was expended and came to rest when the train ......
  • Sanford Bros. Boats, Inc. v. Vidrine, No. 25559.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 15, 1969
    ...Central Railroad Co., 255 U.S. 455, 41 S.Ct. 381, 65 L.Ed. 729, and fully discussed by us in Reetz v. Chicago & Erie Railroad Co., 6 Cir., 46 F.2d 50. Brown was not engaged in making a coupling operation, the defective coupling was not the instrumentality which injured him, and there 412 F.......
  • Donnell v. Elgin Ry Co, No. 56
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 12, 1949
    ...Co., 256 N.Y. 363, 176 N.E. 425; Stewart v. Wabash R. Co., 105 Neb. 812, 182 N.W. 496. And see Reetz v. Chicago & E.R. Co., 6 Cir., 1931, 46 F.2d 50. This appears also to have been the view of this Court in the only case of this nature ever before it. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotsc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Green v. River Terminal Ry. Co., No. 84-3401
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 10, 1985
    ...an efficient cause of or the instrumentality through which the injury is directly brought about." Reetz v. Chicago & Erie Railroad Co., 46 F.2d 50, 52 (6th Cir.1931); Anderson v. Baltimore & Ohio Railway Co., 89 F.2d 629, 630-31 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 302 U.S. 696-97, 58 S.Ct. 14, 82 L.Ed......
  • Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Evans, MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 25, 1952
    ...perform when applied. See Coray v. Southern Pacific Co., 335 U.S. 520, 69 S.Ct. 275, 93 L.Ed. 208; Reetz v. Chicago & E. Ry. Co., 6 Cir., 46 F.2d 50. The 'force' of the broken hose (as the word force is used in the literature of proximate cause) was expended and came to rest when the train ......
  • Sanford Bros. Boats, Inc. v. Vidrine, No. 25559.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 15, 1969
    ...Central Railroad Co., 255 U.S. 455, 41 S.Ct. 381, 65 L.Ed. 729, and fully discussed by us in Reetz v. Chicago & Erie Railroad Co., 6 Cir., 46 F.2d 50. Brown was not engaged in making a coupling operation, the defective coupling was not the instrumentality which injured him, and there 412 F.......
  • Donnell v. Elgin Ry Co, No. 56
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 12, 1949
    ...Co., 256 N.Y. 363, 176 N.E. 425; Stewart v. Wabash R. Co., 105 Neb. 812, 182 N.W. 496. And see Reetz v. Chicago & E.R. Co., 6 Cir., 1931, 46 F.2d 50. This appears also to have been the view of this Court in the only case of this nature ever before it. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotsc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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