Brown v. Chicago, RI & PR Co., Civ. No. 699.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
Writing for the CourtGRAVEN
Citation108 F. Supp. 164
PartiesBROWN v. CHICAGO, R. I. & P. R. CO.
Decision Date29 October 1952
Docket NumberCiv. No. 699.

108 F. Supp. 164

BROWN
v.
CHICAGO, R. I. & P. R. CO.

Civ. No. 699.

United States District Court N. D. Iowa, W. D.

October 29, 1952.


108 F. Supp. 165

Floyd E. Page, Denison, Iowa, for plaintiff.

Alden B. Howland, Des Moines, Iowa, for defendant.

GRAVEN, District Judge.

Shortly after midnight on September 16, 1950, near the Town of Ocheyedan, Osceola County, Iowa, a collision occurred between one of the defendant's trains and an automobile in which the plaintiff's intestate, William E. Brown, was riding as a passenger. William E. Brown died as the result of injuries received in the collision. The plaintiff seeks in this case to recover damages for the death of William E. Brown. The plaintiff in her complaint charged the defendant with several acts of negligence. One of such charges related to the insufficiency of the locomotive headlight illumination. The plaintiff in her complaint claimed that under the circumstances existing at or near the time of the collision the claimed insufficiency of the headlight illumination was a proximate cause of the collision and the resulting death of William E. Brown. The plaintiff charged that the headlight did not comply with the power and brilliancy requirements as set forth in Section 477.22, Code of Iowa 1950, I.C.A. The material portion of that Section provides as follows:

"It shall be the duty of every person, firm, or corporation owning or operating any line of railway within the state, except lines under twenty miles in length operated wholly within this state, to equip all locomotives, power vehicles, power cars, or other equipment used as the equivalent of or in place of a locomotive, when used in the transportation of passengers or freight, with a headlight of sufficient candle power, measured with a reflector, to throw a light in clear weather that will enable the operator of same to plainly discern an object the size of a man lying prone on the track at a distance of eleven hundred feet from the headlight, and thereafter to maintain and use such headlights upon every such locomotive, vehicle, car, or other equipment."

The defendant in its answer alleged that the provisions of this Iowa statute were not applicable. It further alleged that the applicable provisions as to power and brilliancy of the headlight were contained in a regulation of the Interstate Commerce Commission promulgated under the authority given to it by the Boiler Inspection Act and the amendments thereto, 45 U.S.C.A. § 22 et seq. That regulation provides as follows:

"Each locomotive used in road service between sunset and sunrise shall have a headlight which shall afford sufficient illumination to enable a person in the cab of such locomotive who possesses the usual visual capacity required of locomotive enginemen, to see in a clear atmosphere, a dark object as large as a man of average size standing erect at a distance of at least 800 feet ahead and in front of such headlight; and such headlight must be maintained in good condition." United States Regulations for Steam and Other Than Steam Locomotives § 231 (a) (1950).

It is apparent that under the Iowa statute headlight illumination of greater power and brilliancy is required than under the Interstate Commerce Commission regulation, and it is the claim of the plaintiff that it was the duty of the defendant to observe that higher standard. It is the contention of the defendant that its headlight did comply with the Interstate Commerce Commission regulation and that negligence on its part cannot be based upon noncompliance with the State statute. The plaintiff and the defendant by proper procedure have raised the question as to whether the Iowa statute or the Interstate Commerce Commission regulation is controlling as to the matter of the power and brilliancy of the headlight. It is conceded that the locomotive, at and preceding the collision, was moving goods in interstate commerce.

The question requires a consideration of federal legislation relating to railroad equipment and of decisions thereunder.

Congress first legislated in the matter of the safety of railroad equipment by the

108 F. Supp. 166
enactment of the Safety Appliance Act, c. 196, 27 Stat. 531, on March 2, 1893, 45 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq. On February 17, 1911, Congress enacted the Boiler Inspection Act, c. 103, 36 Stat. 913. That Act as originally enacted granted the Interstate Commerce Commission "rule making" and "inspection" powers. However, such powers were limited to the boilers of locomotives. On March 4, 1915, Congress enacted an amendment to the Boiler Inspection Act, c. 169, 38 Stat. 1192, in which such powers were extended to include the entire locomotive and tender. That amendment will be hereafter referred to as the 1915 amendment

Prior to the enactment of the original Boiler Inspection Act, a state statute prescribing standards for locomotive headlights was upheld. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. State, 1910, 135 Ga. 545, 69 S.E. 725, 32 L.R.A.,N.S., 20, affirmed sub nom after passage of the Boiler Inspection Act, Atlantic Coast Line v. Georgia, 1913, 234 U.S. 280, 34 S.Ct. 829, 58 L.Ed. 1312. The holding was to the effect that Congress had not, by the enactment of the Safety Appliance Act, occupied that particular field.

The United States Supreme Court soon after passage of the Boiler Inspection Act had before it a case involving the status of an Indiana statute relating to "grab-irons" on railway cars. The Indiana Supreme Court had upheld the statute. Southern Ry. Co. v. Railroad Comm. of Ind., 1913, 179 Ind. 23, 100 N.E. 337. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court that decision was reversed. 1915, 236 U.S. 439, 35 S.Ct. 304, 59 L.Ed. 661. That Court held that Congress, by the enactment of the Safety Appliance...

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6 practice notes
  • Roth v. I & M Rail Link, L.L.C., No. 3-00-CV-10053.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • October 12, 2001
    ...have brought suits based on a violation of the LIA under state common-law tort theories. See Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164, 168 (N.D.Iowa 1952) (holding that regulation under authority of LIA fixed the duty owed by defendant to plaintiff's intestate regarding locomotive......
  • Wiedenfeld v. Chicago & N.W. Transp. Co., No. 2-57216
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1977
    ...for greater illumination it was held inapplicable in view of the governing federal regulations. Brown v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D.Iowa We hold trial court did not err in not submitting to the jury the duty of a railroad to equip trains with oscillating headlights. E.......
  • Springston v. Consolidated Rail Corp., No. 3:93 CV 7233.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • July 5, 1994
    ...also true that the BIA was also enacted to promote the safety of passengers and the public generally. Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D.Iowa 1952) (citation...
  • Brotherhood of R. R. Trainmen, In re, No. A--52
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • April 24, 1967
    ...federal commission has prescribed detailed regulations with respect to them. 49 C.F.R. § 91.231; see Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D. Iowa 1952). Here uniformity is a matter of prime consideration and there is no suggestion that the State agency could impose differen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Roth v. I & M Rail Link, L.L.C., No. 3-00-CV-10053.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • October 12, 2001
    ...have brought suits based on a violation of the LIA under state common-law tort theories. See Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164, 168 (N.D.Iowa 1952) (holding that regulation under authority of LIA fixed the duty owed by defendant to plaintiff's intestate regarding locomo......
  • Wiedenfeld v. Chicago & N.W. Transp. Co., No. 2-57216
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1977
    ...for greater illumination it was held inapplicable in view of the governing federal regulations. Brown v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D.Iowa We hold trial court did not err in not submitting to the jury the duty of a railroad to equip trains with oscillating headlights......
  • Springston v. Consolidated Rail Corp., No. 3:93 CV 7233.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • July 5, 1994
    ...true that the BIA was also enacted to promote the safety of passengers and the public generally. Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D.Iowa 1952) (citation...
  • Brotherhood of R. R. Trainmen, In re, No. A--52
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • April 24, 1967
    ...commission has prescribed detailed regulations with respect to them. 49 C.F.R. § 91.231; see Brown v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 108 F.Supp. 164 (N.D. Iowa 1952). Here uniformity is a matter of prime consideration and there is no suggestion that the State agency could impose different he......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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