Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Fulton Skaggs, No. 194

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHughes
Citation36 S.Ct. 249,60 L.Ed. 528,240 U.S. 66
Decision Date31 January 1916
Docket NumberNo. 194
PartiesILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. FULTON M. SKAGGS

240 U.S. 66
36 S.Ct. 249
60 L.Ed. 528
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, Plff. in Err.,

v.

FULTON M. SKAGGS.

No. 194.
Argued January 19 and 20, 1916.
Decided January 31, 1916.

Page 67

Mr. W. S. Horton and Blewett Lee for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Humphrey Barton and John H. Kay for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Hughes delivered the opinion of the court:

This is writ of error to review a judgment recovered under the Federal employers' liability act. There is no question but that the defendant in error, Fulton M. Skaggs, was injured while he was engaged in interstate commerce in the course of his employment by the plaintiff in error. It is contended that the state court erred in its application of the statute to the facts, both with respect to the conditions of liability and the measure of damages.

Skaggs had been employed by the company for about four years, first in connection with the building and repair of bridges, and then, for about two years, as a locomotive fireman. A few days before the accident he began work as a brakeman on a freight train, his first run being from Freeport to Clinton, Illinois, on January 10, 1913. It was on the return trip to Freeport, on January 13, 1913, that he was injured. The crew consisted of the conductor, the engineer, the fireman, the rear brakeman, named Buchta,

Page 68

and Skaggs, who was head (or forward) brakeman. There was evidence that Buchta was assigned to the position of rear brakeman because of his greater experience. The train reached Amboy, an intermediate station, about 2 o'clock A. M. It was a dark, cold night. There were fifteen cars in the train, two of which were to be left at Amboy. The train was cut immediately behind these two cars; the engine with the forward string of cars proceeded northward on the main track to a point beyond a switch connecting with a passing track to the west; and the two cars were then pushed back on the passing track and cut off. The engine, with the remaining cars, then returned to the main track and backed down in the direction of the cars which had been left standing on the track. After backing a short distance, the engine was stopped, was uncoupled, and was moved forward alone across the switch leading to the passing track, the purpose being to return to the passing track and from thence to proceed to a further track to the west, in order to pick up certain other cars which were to be put into the train. There had not been left, however, a safe clearance for the engine, and, when the engine backed to the passing track, Skaggs, who was riding on the right side at the rear of the tender, was hit by the end of the foremost car left on the main track, was knocked to the ground, and was run over, this being the injury of which he complains.

While there is little or no dispute as to these facts, there is a conflict of testimony as to the relation of Buchta, the other brakeman, to the occurrence. Omitting various details of the movements which, for the present purpose, need not be considered, and taking the testimony of Skaggs, which the jury was at liberty to believe, these facts appear: When, after leaving the two cars on the passing track, the engine, with the remaining string of cars, returned to the main track and backed down, Skaggs gave the signal to stop, repeating a signal which was received, as he

Page 69

supposed, from the conductor. At that time Buchta was somewhere in the yard (he had been lining up switches for the intended movements), but Skaggs did not see him when the cars were stopped. Skaggs then went to the depot to ascertain the meaning of the signal, and was told by the conductor that it was necessary to pick up certain other cars. Returning to the engine, he attempted to uncouple it from the right-hand side, but found this difficult, and Buchta, who was then on the opposite side, effected the uncoupling and said, 'Go ahead.' On Skaggs's signal, the engine started forward; but Skaggs did not know whether the cars were left so as to give sufficient clearance for an engine going onto the passing track, and asked Buchta as to this. He did not receive a satisfactory answer; he stopped the engine, got off, and again asked Buchta, who replied: 'They are clear a mile, go ahead, and if we don't get out of here the sixteen-hour law will catch us before we get into Freeport.' Skaggs at that time was on the track at the rear of the tender and not more than a car's length from the standing car. He then got on the engine, rode up to the switch, through the switch, gave the back-up signal, stepped on the corner of the tender and was looking back for any signal that might be given by the other brakeman when he was caught between the rear right-hand side of the tender and the end of the standing car, as already stated.

It is contended that the state court erred in permitting a recovery under the Federal statute for the reason that the injury resulted from Skaggs's own act, or from an act in which he participated. The company, it is said, 'cannot be negligent to an employee whose failure of duty and neglect produced the dangerous condition.' It may be taken for...

To continue reading

Request your trial
107 practice notes
  • Mississippi Cent R. Co. v. Knight, 24615
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 30 Marzo 1925
    ...239 U.S. 548, 60 L.Ed. 431; Kanawha & Michigan R. R. Co. v. Kerse, 239 U.S. 576, 60 L.Ed. 448; Illinois Central R. R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66, 60 L.Ed. 528; Philadelphia & Reading R. R. Co. v. Hancock, 253 U.S. 284, 64 L.Ed. 907; Erie R. R. Co v. Szary, 253 U.S. 86, 64 L.Ed. 794; Philade......
  • Mooney v. Terminal Railroad Assn. of St. Louis, No. 39202.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 5 Marzo 1945
    ...246 U.S. 330; Brock v. M. & O.R. Co., 330 Mo. 918, 51 S.W. (2d) 100, certiorari denied 287 U.S. 638; Illinois Central R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66; Grand Trunk Western R. Co. v. Lindsay, 233 U.S. 42; Chicago G.W.R. Co. v. Schendel, 267 U.S. 287; Spokane & E.I.R. Co. v. Campbell, 241 U.S. 4......
  • Harlan v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32085.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 Junio 1934
    ...299 Mo. 641, 253 S.W. 984; Walter v. Cement Co., 250 S.W. 587; K.C. So. Ry. Co. v. Jones, 241 U.S. 181; Ill. Cent. Railroad Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66; Frese v. Railroad Co., 263 U.S. 1; McIntyre v. Ry. Co., 227 S.W. 1047; Smith v. So. Ill. & Mo. Bridge Co., 326 Mo. 109, 30 S.W. (2d) 1077; ......
  • Brock v. Railroad Co., No. 29997.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 13 Junio 1932
    ...negligence is the sole proximate cause of his injury or death there can be no recovery as was said in Illinois Central R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66, 60 L. Ed. 528, 36 Sup. Ct. 249: "It may be taken for granted that the statute does not contemplate a recovery by an employee for the conseque......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
107 cases
  • Mississippi Cent R. Co. v. Knight, 24615
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 30 Marzo 1925
    ...239 U.S. 548, 60 L.Ed. 431; Kanawha & Michigan R. R. Co. v. Kerse, 239 U.S. 576, 60 L.Ed. 448; Illinois Central R. R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66, 60 L.Ed. 528; Philadelphia & Reading R. R. Co. v. Hancock, 253 U.S. 284, 64 L.Ed. 907; Erie R. R. Co v. Szary, 253 U.S. 86, 64 L.Ed. 794; Philade......
  • Mooney v. Terminal Railroad Assn. of St. Louis, No. 39202.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 5 Marzo 1945
    ...246 U.S. 330; Brock v. M. & O.R. Co., 330 Mo. 918, 51 S.W. (2d) 100, certiorari denied 287 U.S. 638; Illinois Central R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66; Grand Trunk Western R. Co. v. Lindsay, 233 U.S. 42; Chicago G.W.R. Co. v. Schendel, 267 U.S. 287; Spokane & E.I.R. Co. v. Campbell, 241 U.S. 4......
  • Harlan v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32085.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 12 Junio 1934
    ...299 Mo. 641, 253 S.W. 984; Walter v. Cement Co., 250 S.W. 587; K.C. So. Ry. Co. v. Jones, 241 U.S. 181; Ill. Cent. Railroad Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66; Frese v. Railroad Co., 263 U.S. 1; McIntyre v. Ry. Co., 227 S.W. 1047; Smith v. So. Ill. & Mo. Bridge Co., 326 Mo. 109, 30 S.W. (2d) 1077; ......
  • Brock v. Railroad Co., No. 29997.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 13 Junio 1932
    ...negligence is the sole proximate cause of his injury or death there can be no recovery as was said in Illinois Central R. Co. v. Skaggs, 240 U.S. 66, 60 L. Ed. 528, 36 Sup. Ct. 249: "It may be taken for granted that the statute does not contemplate a recovery by an employee for the conseque......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT