95 U.S. 697 (1878), Chicago, R.i. & P.r. Co. v. Houston

Citation:95 U.S. 697, 24 L.Ed. 542
Party Name:RAILROAD COMPANY v. HOUSTON.
Case Date:January 07, 1878
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 697

95 U.S. 697 (1878)

24 L.Ed. 542

RAILROAD COMPANY

v.

HOUSTON.

United States Supreme Court.

January 07, 1878

OPINION

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Missouri.

This was an action against the Chicago, Rock Island, and

Page 698

Pacific Railroad Company, brought under a statute of Missouri, which subjects a corporation to a penalty of $5,000 where death is caused by an injury resulting from 'the negligence, unskilfulness, or criminal intent' of any of its officers, agents, servants, or employés, whilst running, conducting, or managing a locomotive, car, or train of cars. In this case, the deceased was the wife of the plaintiff; her death was caused by injuries inflicted by the defendant's locomotive whilst the train was passing through the village of Cameron in that State. The defendant had two tracks, one main and the other a side track, which extended through a considerable portion of the village, and passed south of Second Street. The tracks were separated from each other by only a few feet. The house at which the deceased resided was north of Second Street and east of Harris Street, which the tracks crossed. South of the two tracks, and about ninety feet east from Harris Street, was situated a building belonging to the company, called the section-house, near which was a well of water. The building and well were on the company's right of way. The train was due, on the evening when the accident occurred, at half-past six, and it entered the village from the west. At that time a gravel-train had been switched on the side track east of Harris Street, between the section-house and the depot. Freight-cars were also standing on the side track west of, but near, Harris Street. There was a plank-crossing over the railway at Harris Street. When cars were not standing on the tracks there was nothing to prevent one passing in a direct or nearly direct line from the house of the deceased to the section-house. Persons, in going to the well from that house, sometimes passed the road at the public crossing, and sometimes on the right of way of the company east of Harris Street. The evidence disclosed by the record relating to the accident only shows that at about half-past six in the evening of the 13th of March, 1872, the deceased took a pail upon her arm and left her house, and, it is supposed, started for the well near the section-house. She was seen by her daughter as she left, and by the engineer only a few seconds before she was struck by the locomotive. It does not appear that she was seen by any other person after leaving the house before she was injured. When discovered by the engineer, the locomotive

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was within four feet of her. She was then on the main track of the railway, about ninety feet east of Harris Street, and was apparently passing from the track south. She was struck by the extreme end of the beam of timber running across the engine, known as the bumper, and was thrown into a ditch about ten feet from the section-house. The engineer testified, that when he discovered her it was impossible to stop the train so as to avoid striking her. She died within an hour after receiving the injury.

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