Davis v. Wolfe, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSANFORD
Citation263 U.S. 239,44 S.Ct. 64,68 L.Ed. 284
Decision Date12 October 1923
Docket NumberNo. 71
PartiesDAVIS, Designated Agent, v. WOLFE

263 U.S. 239
44 S.Ct. 64
68 L.Ed. 284
DAVIS, Designated Agent,

v.

WOLFE.

No. 71.
Argued and Submitted Oct. 12, 1923.
Decided. Nov. 12, 1923.

Mr. Frank H. Sullivan, of St. Louis, Mo., for petitioner.

Messrs. Sidney Thorne Able and P. H. Cullen, both of St. Louis, Mo., for respondent.

Mr. Justice SANFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent Wolfe brought this action in a Circuit Court of Missouri to recover damages for personal injuries suffered by him while employed as the conductor

Page 240

of a freight train on a railroad under federal control, basing his right of recovery upon the Employers' Liability Act (Comp. St. §§ 8657-8665) in connection, primarily, with an alleged violation of the provisions of the Safety Appliance Act of March 2, 1893, c. 196, 27 Stat. 531 (Comp. St. §§ 8605-8612), as amended by the Act of March 2, 1903, c. 976, 32 Stat. 943 (Comp. St. §§ 8613-8615). He had a verdict and judgment; and the judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. Wolfe v. Payne, 294 Mo. 170, 241 S. W. 915.

The petitioner contends that there was no evidence to take the case to the jury under the Safety Appliance Act and that it was erroneously held to be applicable in the situation presented.

Section 4 of the original Act, as amended by the Act of 1903, provides that, until otherwise ordered by the Interstate Commerce Commission, it shall be unlawful to use on any railroad engaged in interstate commerce any car 'not provided with secure grab irons or handholds in the ends and sides * * * for greater security to men in coupling and uncoupling cars.' Southern Railway v. United States, 222 U. S. 20, 24, 32 Sup. Ct. 2, 56 L. Ed. 72.

It was undisputed that the carrier was engaged in interstate commerce and that Wolfe was employed in such commerce. As found by the Supreme Court of Missouri his evidence tended to show the following facts: While the freight train of which he was conductor was at a station, moving slowly, he was standing on the side of one of the cars with his feet in a sill-step fastened to the bottom of the car within about a foot of its end, and holding on with his right hand to a grab iron or handhold directly over the sill-step and about three or four feet from it. This grab iron consisted of a round iron bar bent at the ends, which were bolted into the wooden side of the car. The wood had rotted or been worn away, so that the bolts had a play or movement of about an inch, which made the grab iron loose and defective and permitted it to move to that extent. While thus standing on the sill-step

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and holding on to the grab iron with his right hand, Wolfe signalled the fireman with his left hand to stop the train. But instead of stopping it moved forward with a violent jerk at accelerated speed, and by reason of the movement of the loose grab iron to which Wolfe was holding, he was caused to fall to the ground beside the car and one of its wheels ran over his left arm and injured it so that it had to be amputated at the shoulder joint. It was, furthermore, not unusual for conductors or brakemen to stand in the sill-step and hold on to the grab iron to signal orders as to the movement of the train. The loose condition of the grab iron was not disputed.

The argument in behalf of the petitioner is, in substance, that on these facts Wolfe was not in a situation where the defective grab iron operated as a breach of duty...

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105 practice notes
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...to obey these Safety Appliance Laws is the proximate cause of injury to them when engaged in the discharge of duty.' See Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 243, 44 S.Ct. 64, 66, 68 L.Ed. 284; Coray v. Southern Pacific Co., 335 U.S. 520, 522—523, 69 S.Ct. 275, 276, 277; Brady v. Terminal R. Ass'n......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 59 L. Ed. 1290, 35 Sup. Ct. 785; Lang v. Ry. Co., 255 U.S. 455, 65 L. Ed. 729, 41 Sup. Ct. 381; Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239; Davis v. Hand, 290 Fed. 73, certiorari denied, 263 U.S. 705; Phillips v. Railroad Co., 283 Fed. 381, certiorari denied, 260 U.S. 731; McCal......
  • Brady v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 33525.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 24, 1937
    ...the failure to comply with the Safety Appliance Act, or the rule or regulation is not the proximate cause of the injury. Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 44 Sup. Ct. 64, 68 L. Ed. 284; Railroad v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 35 Sup. Ct. 785, 59 L. Ed. 1290; Lang v. Railroad Co., 255 U.S. 455, 41 Su......
  • 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
    ..."merely creates an incidental condition or situation in which the accident, otherwise caused, results in such injury." Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 243, 44 S.Ct. 64, 66, 68 L.Ed. 284 (1923). "Where there has been a failure of a required appliance, there is liability only where the failure ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
105 cases
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...to obey these Safety Appliance Laws is the proximate cause of injury to them when engaged in the discharge of duty.' See Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 243, 44 S.Ct. 64, 66, 68 L.Ed. 284; Coray v. Southern Pacific Co., 335 U.S. 520, 522—523, 69 S.Ct. 275, 276, 277; Brady v. Terminal R. Ass'n......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 59 L. Ed. 1290, 35 Sup. Ct. 785; Lang v. Ry. Co., 255 U.S. 455, 65 L. Ed. 729, 41 Sup. Ct. 381; Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239; Davis v. Hand, 290 Fed. 73, certiorari denied, 263 U.S. 705; Phillips v. Railroad Co., 283 Fed. 381, certiorari denied, 260 U.S. 731; McCal......
  • Brady v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 33525.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 24, 1937
    ...the failure to comply with the Safety Appliance Act, or the rule or regulation is not the proximate cause of the injury. Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 44 Sup. Ct. 64, 68 L. Ed. 284; Railroad v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 35 Sup. Ct. 785, 59 L. Ed. 1290; Lang v. Railroad Co., 255 U.S. 455, 41 Su......
  • 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
    ..."merely creates an incidental condition or situation in which the accident, otherwise caused, results in such injury." Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 243, 44 S.Ct. 64, 66, 68 L.Ed. 284 (1923). "Where there has been a failure of a required appliance, there is liability only where the failure ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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