George Robinson v. Baltimore Ohio Railroad Company, No. 167

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHughes
Citation59 L.Ed. 849,35 S.Ct. 491,237 U.S. 84
Docket NumberNo. 167
Decision Date05 April 1915
PartiesGEORGE R. ROBINSON, Plff. in Err., v. BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD COMPANY

237 U.S. 84
35 S.Ct. 491
59 L.Ed. 849
GEORGE R. ROBINSON, Plff. in Err.,

v.

BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD COMPANY.

No. 167.
Argued March 3 and 4, 1915.
Decided April 5, 1915.

Page 85

Messrs. Levi H. David and Alexander Wolf for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 85-87 intentionally omitted]

Page 88

Messrs. John W. Yerkes, John J. Hamilton, and George E. Hamilton for defendant in error.

Page 89

Mr. Justice Hughes delivered the opinion of the court:

George R. Robinson, the plaintiff in error, brought this action to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by him while performing his duty as a porter in charge of a Pullman car which was being hauled by the defendant as a part of an interstate train. The injuries were received in a collision which was due, it was alleged, to the defendant's negligence. The defendant introduced in evidence the plaintiff's contract of employment1 with the Pullman

Page 90

Company, by which he released all railroad corporations over whose lines the cars of that company might be operated while he was traveling in its service 'from all claims for liability of any nature or character whatsoever on account of any personal injury or death.' The trial court directed a verdict in favor of the defendant, and the judg-

Page 91

ment, entered accordingly, was affirmed by the court of appeals. 40 App. D. C. 169, L.R.A. ——.

The plaintiff in error complains of the admission of the contract in evidence, in view of the fact that a demurrer to a special plea setting up the release had been sustained; but, if the contract was a defense, it cannot be said that the court erred in giving effect to it, despite the earlier ruling. The evidence was admissible under the plea of not guilty. Brown v. Baltimore & O. R. Co. 6 App. D. C. 237, 242; Shafer v. Stonebraker, 4 Gill & J. 345, 355, 356; Johnson v. Philadelphia & R. R. Co. 163 Pa. 127, 133, 29 Atl. 854. It is also clear that, unless condemned by statute, the contract was a valid one and a bar to recovery. Baltimore & O. S. W. R. Co. v. Voigt, 176 U. S. 498, 44 L. ed. 560, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 385; Santa Fe, P. & P. R. Co. v. Grant Bros. Constr. Co. 228 U. S. 177, 57 L. ed. 787, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 474.

The substantial question is whether the contract of release was invalid under § 5 of the employers' liability act of April 22, 1908 (35 Stat. at L. 65, chap. 149, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8657), which provides that 'any contract . . . the purpose or intent of which shall be to enable any common carrier to exempt itself from any liability created by this act, shall to that extent be void.' The application of this provision depends upon the plaintiff's employment. For the 'liability created' by the act is a liability to the 'employees' of the carrier, and not to others; and the plaintiff was not entitled to the benefit of the provision unless he was 'employed' by the railroad company within the meaning of the act. It will be observed that the question is not whether the railroad company, by virtue of its duty to passengers, of which it cannot devest itself by any arrangement with a sleeping car company, would not be liable for the engligence of a sleeping car porter in matters involving the passenger's safety (Pennsylvania Co. v. Roy, 102 U. S. 451, 26 L. ed. 141). Nor are we here concerned with the measure of the obligation of the railroad company, in the absence of special contract, to one in the plaintiff's situation by

Page 92

reason of the fact that he was lawfully on the train, although not a passenger. The inquiry rather is whether the plaintiff comes within the statutory description; that is, whether, upon the facts disclosed in the record, it can be said that within the sense of the act the plaintiff was an employee of the railroad company, or whether he is not to be regarded as outside that description, being, in truth, on the train simply in the character...

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124 practice notes
  • Francis v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 39573.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 8, 1946
    ...stipulated; contractual; — opposed in law to legal and judicial." Webster's New International Dictionary. Robinson v. B. & O.R. Co., 237 U.S. 84, 59 L. Ed. 849; C. & A.R. Co. v. Wagner, 239 U.S. 452, 60 L. Ed. 379; Hull v. Philadelphia & Reading R. Co., 252 U.S. 475, 64 L. Ed. 67. (3) Origi......
  • Stein v. Oil & Grease Co., No. 28562.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 21, 1931
    ...Ry. Co. v. Wilson, 138 U.S. 501, 34 L. Ed. 1023; Vane v. Newcomb & Smith, 132 U.S. 220, 33 L. Ed. 310; Robinson v. Railroad Co., 237 U.S. 84, 59 L. Ed. 849. (c) There is no merit whatever in the contention that respondent conceded the relationship of master and servant by the plea of assump......
  • Graham v. Thompson, No. 39898.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 27, 1948
    ...Sec. 51, Title 45, United States Code Annotated; Hull v. Philadelphia Ry. Co., 252 U.S. 475, 40 S. Ct. 358; Robinson v. Baltimore & Ohio, 237 U.S. 84, 35 S. Ct. 491; Stevenson v. Lake Terminal Ry. Co., 42 Fed. (2d) 357; Chicago, R.I. & Pac. R. Co. v. Bond, 240 U.S. 449, 36 S. Ct. 403; Schla......
  • Community For Creative v. Reid, NON-VIOLENCE
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 5, 1989
    ...v. Texas & Pacific R. Co., 359 U.S. 227, 228, 79 S.Ct. 664, 665, 3 L.Ed.2d 756 (1959) (per curiam ); Robinson v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 237 U.S. 84, 94, 35 S.Ct. 491, 494, 59 L.Ed. 849 (1915). Nothing in the text of the work for hire provisions indicates that Congress used the words "empl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
124 cases
  • Francis v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 39573.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 8, 1946
    ...stipulated; contractual; — opposed in law to legal and judicial." Webster's New International Dictionary. Robinson v. B. & O.R. Co., 237 U.S. 84, 59 L. Ed. 849; C. & A.R. Co. v. Wagner, 239 U.S. 452, 60 L. Ed. 379; Hull v. Philadelphia & Reading R. Co., 252 U.S. 475, 64 L. Ed. 67. (3) Origi......
  • Stein v. Oil & Grease Co., No. 28562.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 21, 1931
    ...Ry. Co. v. Wilson, 138 U.S. 501, 34 L. Ed. 1023; Vane v. Newcomb & Smith, 132 U.S. 220, 33 L. Ed. 310; Robinson v. Railroad Co., 237 U.S. 84, 59 L. Ed. 849. (c) There is no merit whatever in the contention that respondent conceded the relationship of master and servant by the plea of assump......
  • Graham v. Thompson, No. 39898.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 27, 1948
    ...Sec. 51, Title 45, United States Code Annotated; Hull v. Philadelphia Ry. Co., 252 U.S. 475, 40 S. Ct. 358; Robinson v. Baltimore & Ohio, 237 U.S. 84, 35 S. Ct. 491; Stevenson v. Lake Terminal Ry. Co., 42 Fed. (2d) 357; Chicago, R.I. & Pac. R. Co. v. Bond, 240 U.S. 449, 36 S. Ct. 403; Schla......
  • Community For Creative v. Reid, NON-VIOLENCE
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 5, 1989
    ...v. Texas & Pacific R. Co., 359 U.S. 227, 228, 79 S.Ct. 664, 665, 3 L.Ed.2d 756 (1959) (per curiam ); Robinson v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 237 U.S. 84, 94, 35 S.Ct. 491, 494, 59 L.Ed. 849 (1915). Nothing in the text of the work for hire provisions indicates that Congress used the words "empl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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