Aerkfetz v. Humphreys

Decision Date16 May 1892
Citation12 S.Ct. 835,36 L.Ed. 758,145 U.S. 418
CourtU.S. Supreme Court


On May 17, 1887, William Aerkfetz, being under 21 years of age, by Frederick Aerkfetz, his next friend, commenced this action in the circuit court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan against the defendants in error, receivers duly appointed and in possession of the Wabash Railroad, to recover damages for personal injuries caused, as alleged, by their negligence. The defendants answered, and on a trial before a jury the verdict and judgment were for the defendants. To reverse such judgment this writ of error has been sued out.

C. E. Warner and L. T. Griffin, for plaintiff in error.

Wells H. Blodgett, for defendants in error.

Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

Plaintiff was in the employ of the defendants in the yard of the railroad company at Delray, working on one of the tracks therein, and, while so engaged, was run over and injured by a freight car, moved by a switch engine.

The defenses presented were three: First, the receivers were guilty of no negligence; second, even if they were, plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence; and, third, whatever negligence there was, if any, was that of a fellow servant. The trial court directed a verdict for the defendants on the ground of contributory negligence. Much might be said in favor of each of the three propositions advanced by the defendants. We rest our affirmance of the judgment upon the grounds that, under the circumstances, there was no negligence on the part of the defendants, and that the accident occurred through a lack of proper attention on the part of the plaintiff.

There is little dispute in the testimony, and the facts, as disclosed, are plainly these: The Delray yard is in the western part of the city of Detroit. In it were 12 tracks and side tracks, and the yard was used for the making up of trains. A switch engine was employed therein, and, as might be expected, was constantly moving forward and backward, changing cars, and making up trains. Plaintiff was a repairer of tracks. He had been employed there about 18 months, and was familiar with the manner in which the work was done. The yard was about a quarter of a mile in length. The tracks were in a direct line east and west, with nothing to obstruct the view in either direction. At the time of the accident plaintiff was working near the west end of the yard, when a switch engine pushing two cars moved slowly along the track upon which he was at work, the speed of the engine being about that of...

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    ... ... of employer and fellow employers ... Toledo ... St. L. & W. R. Co. v. Allen, 276 U.S. 165, 72 L.Ed ... 513; Aerkfetz v. Humphreys, 145 U.S. 418, 36 L.Ed ... 758; Randall v. Baltimore, 109 U.S. 479, 27 L.Ed ... 1003; Tuttle v. Detroit, 122 U.S. 189, 30 L.Ed ... ...
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