Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtFrank
Citation85 S.W.2d 736
PartiesHARRY A. KIMBERLING v. WABASH RAILWAY COMPANY, a Corporation, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 32531.
Decision Date30 July 1935
85 S.W.2d 736
HARRY A. KIMBERLING
v.
WABASH RAILWAY COMPANY, a Corporation, Appellant.
No. 32531.
Supreme Court of Missouri.
Division One, July 30, 1935.

[85 S.W.2d 737]

Appeal from Circuit Court of City of St. Louis.Hon. Fred J. Hoffmeister, Judge.

AFFIRMED.

J.H. Miller and Homer Hall for appellant.

(1) The plaintiff was required to prove that the cars were not equipped with couplers coupling automatically by impact and which could be uncoupled without the necessity of men going between the ends of the cars, before he is entitled to recover. The judgment is based upon conjecture and inference and cannot be sustained. Robison v. Ry. Co., 64 S.W. (2d) 660; Fryer v. Ry. Co., 333 Mo. 740, 63 S.W. (2d) 47; Martin v. Ry. Co., 325 Mo. 1107, 30 S.W. (2d) 735; Riley v. Ry. Co., 328 Mo. 910, 44 S.W. (2d) 136; Patton v. Railroad Co., 179 U.S. 658, 45 L. Ed. 361, 21 Sup. Ct. 275; Chicago, M. & St. P. Ry. Co. v. Coogan, 271 U.S. 478, 46 Sup. Ct. 564, 70 L. Ed. 1041; Gulf, M. & N. Railroad Co. v. Wells, 275 U.S. 455, 48 Sup. Ct. 151, 72 L. Ed. 370; Toledo, St. L. & W. Railroad Co. v. Allen, 276 U.S. 169, 48 Sup. Ct. 215, 72 L. Ed. 513; Delaware, L. & W. Railroad Co. v. Koske, 279 U.S. 11, 49 Sup. Ct. 202, 73 L. Ed. 578; Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Toops, 281 U.S. 351, 74 L. Ed. 896; New York Cent. Railroad Co. v. Ambrose, 280 U.S. 486, 74 L. Ed. 562, 50 Sup. Ct. 198; Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Chamberlain, 288 U.S. 333, 53 Sup. Ct. 391, 77 L. Ed. 819; Chesapeake & O. Ry. Co. v. Thomason, 70 Fed. (2d) 860; Grand Trunk Western Railroad Co. v. Holstein, 67 Fed. (2d) 780; Burnett v. Railroad Co, 33 Fed. (2d) 579. (2) The plaintiff failed to prove that his injury was the direct and proximate result of failure to have the cars equipped with couplers which would uncouple without the necessity of men going between the cars. The plaintiff is therefore not entitled to recover and the judgment should be reversed. St. Louis & S.F. Ry. Co. 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; McCalmont v. Railroad Co., 283 Fed. 736, certiorari denied, 260 U.S. 751; Weekly v. Railroad Co., 4 Fed. (2d) 312; Erie Railroad Co. v. Linquist, 27 Fed. (2d) 98; Swinson v. Ry. Co., 72 Fed. (2d) 649; C.M. & St. P. Railroad Co. v. Coogan, 271 U.S. 472, 70 L. Ed. 1041, 46 Sup. Ct. 564; Hadgert v. Railroad Co., 202 N.Y. Supp. 793, 207 N.Y. App. Div. 764; Schendel v. Ry. Co., 165 Minn. 223, 206 N.W. 436; Kern v. Payne, 65 Mont. 325, 211 Pac. 767, certiorari denied, 261 U.S. 617; Johnson v. Terminal Railroad Assn., 8 S.W. (2d) 891; Ill. State Trust Co. v. Railroad Co., 319 Mo. 608, 5 S.W. (2d) 368, certiorari denied, 278 U.S. 623; Rittenhouse v. Ry. Co., 299 Mo. 199, 252 S.W. 945; Martin v. Ry. Co., 323 Mo. 450, 19 S.W. (2d) 470; Peters v. Ry. Co., 328 Mo. 924, 42 S.W. (2d) 588; Robison v. Ry. Co., 64 S.W. (2d) 660. Where a Federal statute is involved, as here, our State courts will follow the decisions of the Federal courts. Norton v. Wheelock, 23 S.W. (2d) 146; Ill. State Trust Co. v. Railroad Co., 319 Mo. 608, 5 S.W. (2d) 370. (3) Plaintiff's Instruction 1 is erroneous and misleading because (1) it required the jury to find for plaintiff because of the mere failure of the cars to uncouple, without requiring the jury to find that the couplers were defective or that they could not be uncoupled without the necessity of plaintiff going between the ends of the cars, and (2) it omits the defense pleaded that the injury was the direct and sole result of plaintiff's carelessness in attempting to uncouple the cars and in giving a signal for the cars to be moved when they were not in position, and in placing himself in a dangerous position of his own accord and unnecessarily. Cases under Point 1; Allen v. Ry. Co., 294 S.W. 87. (4) The exclusion of the testimony of the witness Morrison that if the slack in the train is stretched there is difficulty in raising coupler pin and uncoupling the cars was prejudicial and erroneous. This testimony would have shown the jury that the failure of the cars to uncouple in this instance might have been due to some cause other than a defective condition of the couplers. Robison v. Ry. Co., 64 S.W. (2d) 664; Fryer v. Ry. Co., 333 Mo. 754, 63 S.W. (2d) 47; 2 Roberts on Federal Liability of Carriers (2 Ed.), p. 1714.

Eagleton, Waechter & Yost and Roberts P. Elam for respondent.

(1) Defendant's instructions, in the nature of demurrers to the evidence, were properly refused. (a) Plaintiff must be given the benefit of all favorable evidence, together with all favorable inferences that may reasonably be drawn therefrom. Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90, 50 Sup. Ct. 231, 74 L. Ed. 720; Baltimore & O. Railroad Co. v. Groeger, 266 U.S. 521, 45 Sup. Ct. 169, 69 L. Ed. 419; Young v. Wheelock, 64 S.W. (2d) 950. (b) The failure of the coupler to operate, after plaintiff had properly raised the pin-lifter lever so as to uncouple the cars, sustains the charge of violation of the Safety Appliance Act. 45 U.S.C.A., secs. 1-8, 51-59; C., R.I. & P. Railroad Co. v. Brown, 229 U.S. 317, 33 Sup. Ct. 840, 57 L. Ed. 1204; San Antonio & A.P. Railroad Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 36 Sup. Ct. 626, 60 L. Ed. 1110; Minneapolis & St. L. Railroad Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 37 Sup. Ct. 597, 61 L. Ed. 995; L. & N. Railroad Co. v. Layton, 243 U.S. 617, 37 Sup. Ct. 456, 61 L. Ed. 931; C., B. & Q. Railroad Co. v. United States, 220 U.S. 559, 31 Sup. Ct. 612, 55 L. Ed. 582; St. Louis, I.M. & S. Railroad Co. v. Taylor, 210 U.S. 281, 28 Sup. Ct. 616, 52 L. Ed. 1061; Philadelphia & R. Railroad Co. v. Auchenbach, 16 Fed. (2d) 550; Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Jones, 300 Fed. 525; Nichols v. Ry. Co., 195 Fed. 913, 115 C.C.A. 601; Sacre v. Ry. Co., 260 S.W. 85; McAllister v. Ry. Co., 25 S.W. (2d) 791; Henry v. Railroad Co., 61 S.W. (2d) 340; Alcorn v. Railroad Co., 63 S.W. (2d) 55; Davis v. Railroad Co., 134 Minn. 369, 159 N.W. 802, certiorari denied, 242 U.S. 650, 37 Sup. Ct. 243, 60 L. Ed. 545; Devaney v. Railroad Co., 18 Pac. (2d) 284, affirmed, 27 Pac. (2d) 635; Philadelphia & R. Railroad Co. v. Eisenhart, 280 Fed. 271; Alabama G.S. Railroad Co. v. Cornett, 214 Ala. 23, 106 So. 242; Northcutt v. Davis, 113 Kan. 444, 214 Pac. 1113; Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Henry, 158 Ky. 88, 164 S.W. 310; Holtz v. Railroad Co., 176 Minn. 575, 224 N.W. 241; Burho v. Railroad Co., 121 Minn. 326, 141 N.W. 300; Texas & P. Ry. Co. v. Sprole, 202 S.W. 985. (c) The inference, from the failure of the coupler to operate, that the coupler was defective, is the only inference that can legally be drawn, all other inferences being precluded by the direct evidence as to what actually occurred. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Chamberlain, 288 U.S. 333, 53 Sup. Ct. 395; George v. Railroad Co., 213 Mo. App. 668, 251 S.W. 729; Rashall v. Railroad Co., 249 Mo. 522, 155 S.W. 426; Wabash Railroad Co. v. Detar, 141 Fed. 932; McAllister v. Railroad Co., 25 S.W. (2d) 791. (2) The defective coupler, in failing to function efficiently so as to effectuate the uncoupling, caused the jerk which threw plaintiff under the moving cars, and if not the sole proximate cause of his injury was, at least, a contributory cause sufficient to fix liability upon defendant under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. Authorities under Point 1(b); Davis v. Wolfe, 263 U.S. 239, 44 Sup. Ct. 64, 68 L. Ed. 284; Johnson v. Railroad Co., 191 U.S. 1, 25 Sup. Ct. 158, 49 L. Ed. 363; Southern Railroad Co. v. Schneider, 187 Fed. 492, 109 C.C.A. 344; Truesdale v. Wheelock, 74 S.W. (2d) 585; Spokane & Inland E. Railroad Co. v. Campbell, 241 U.S. 497, 36 Sup. Ct. 683, 60 L. Ed. 1125; Southern Pac. Railroad Co. v. Ralston, 67 Fed. (2d) 958; Coble v. Railroad Co., 38 S.W. (2d) 1031; Brainerd v. Railroad Co., 5 S.W. (2d) 15; Anderson v. Asphalt Dist. Co., 55 S.W. (2d) 688; Clark v. Atchison & E. Bridge Co., 324 Mo. 544, 24 S.W. (2d) 143; Cech v. Mallinckrodt Chem. Co., 20 S.W. (2d) 509. (3) The exclusion of the testimony of the witness Morrison was not reversible error. (a) There was no offer of proof as to what his proposed testimony would tend to establish. Byam v. Kansas City Pub. Serv. Co., 41 S.W. (2d) 945. (b) The error, if any, in excluding such testimony was harmless, in view of the testimony of other witnesses. Irwin v. Ry. Co., 325 Mo. 1019, 30 S.W. (2d) 56; Steffen v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co., 56 S.W. (2d) 47. (4) There was no error in giving plaintiff's Instruction 1, because that instruction incorporated all the essential elements of plaintiff's case and all of the defenses pleaded and proven. 64 C.J., p. 817, sec. 673; Edelman v. Wells, 242 S.W. 990; Allen v. Railroad Co., 294 S.W. 80; Gundelach v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 41 S.W. (2d) 1; Althage v. People's Motorbus Co., 320 Mo. 598, 8 S.W. (2d) 926; Kuhlman v. Water, Light & Transit Co., 307 Mo. 636, 271 S.W. 788; Stanton v. Jones, 59 S.W. (2d) 648; State ex rel. Goessling v. Daues, 314 Mo. 287, 284 S.W. 463; Goodwin v. Eugas, 290 Mo. 684, 236 S.W. 50; State ex rel. v. Ellison, 223 S.W. 673; Meily v. Railroad Co., 215 Mo. 597, 114 S.W. 1013; Funk v. Fulton Iron Works, 311 Mo. 77, 277 S.W. 566; Chenoweth v. Sutherland, 129 Mo. App. 438, 107 S.W. 6. (5) The refusal of defendant's instructions D and F was not error. (a) This point is not properly before this court. Perryman v. Railroad Co., 326 Mo. 176, 31 S.W. (2d) 4; Burch v. Railroad Co., 40 S.W. (2d) 688; Moffett v. Butler Mfg. Co., 46 S.W. (2d) 869. (b) There was no evidence in the record upon which to hypothesize such instructions. Authorities under Points 1(c) and 4; State v. Dickman, 124 Mo. App. 653, 102 S.W. 44; Houck v. Ry. Co., 116 Mo. App. 559, 92 S.W. 738. (c) Defendant's instructions D and F were erroneous in form, and erroneous in...

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9 practice notes
  • Copher v. Barbee, Nos. 8104
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 1, 1962
    ...1109, 246 S.W.2d 807, 811(4); Rose v. Thompson, 346 Mo. 395, 402, 141 S.W.2d 824, 828(4); Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 714, 85 S.W.2d 736, 14 Floyd v. St. Louis Public Service Co., Mo., 280 S.W.2d 74, 78(8); Thebeau v. Thebeau, Mo., 324 S.W.2d 674, 678(2); LaPlant v. E. I. DuP......
  • Rush v. Thompson, No. 39851.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 12, 1947
    ...115 Fed. 2d 430, 432[3]; Keenan v. Director General of Railroads, 285 Fed. 286, 289[2]; Kimberling v. Wabash R. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 714, 85 S.W. 2d 736, 740[6], and cases cited; Truesdale v. Wheelock, 335 Mo. 924, 935[3], 74 S.W. 2d 585, 591 [6-8]. Defendant's cases are distinguishable in tha......
  • Duke v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., No. 45654
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 10, 1957
    ...R. Co., Mo., 268 S.W.2d 838, 843; Conner v. City of Nevada, 188 Mo. 148, 86 S.W. 256, 260(4); Kimberling v. Wabash R. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 85 S.W.2d 736, 740, 741. In some of plaintiff's cases no wrongful act of a third person was involved. In other cases, as we read them, the defendant breach......
  • Webb v. Rench, No. 55661
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1972
    ...for excessiveness evidencing bias and prejudice where the court also ordered a remittitur. In Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 85 S.W.2d 736, the jury verdict for plaintiff was for $50,000. The trial court ordered a remittitur of $30,000, 'otherwise the (motion for new trial) will......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Copher v. Barbee, Nos. 8104
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 1, 1962
    ...1109, 246 S.W.2d 807, 811(4); Rose v. Thompson, 346 Mo. 395, 402, 141 S.W.2d 824, 828(4); Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 714, 85 S.W.2d 736, 14 Floyd v. St. Louis Public Service Co., Mo., 280 S.W.2d 74, 78(8); Thebeau v. Thebeau, Mo., 324 S.W.2d 674, 678(2); LaPlant v. E. I. DuP......
  • Rush v. Thompson, No. 39851.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 12, 1947
    ...115 Fed. 2d 430, 432[3]; Keenan v. Director General of Railroads, 285 Fed. 286, 289[2]; Kimberling v. Wabash R. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 714, 85 S.W. 2d 736, 740[6], and cases cited; Truesdale v. Wheelock, 335 Mo. 924, 935[3], 74 S.W. 2d 585, 591 [6-8]. Defendant's cases are distinguishable in tha......
  • Duke v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., No. 45654
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 10, 1957
    ...R. Co., Mo., 268 S.W.2d 838, 843; Conner v. City of Nevada, 188 Mo. 148, 86 S.W. 256, 260(4); Kimberling v. Wabash R. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 85 S.W.2d 736, 740, 741. In some of plaintiff's cases no wrongful act of a third person was involved. In other cases, as we read them, the defendant breach......
  • Webb v. Rench, No. 55661
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1972
    ...for excessiveness evidencing bias and prejudice where the court also ordered a remittitur. In Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 85 S.W.2d 736, the jury verdict for plaintiff was for $50,000. The trial court ordered a remittitur of $30,000, 'otherwise the (motion for new trial) will......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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