Mclaughlin v. N. Y. Central Rd. Co., 25550

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtMATTHIAS, J.
Citation130 Ohio St. 527,200 N.E. 757
PartiesMclaughlin, Admr., v. The New York Central Rd. Co.
Decision Date18 March 1936
Docket Number25550

200 N.E. 757

130 Ohio St. 527

Mclaughlin, Admr.,

The New York Central Rd. Co.

No. 25550

Supreme Court of Ohio

March 18, 1936

Negligence - Railroad crossing collision - Charge to jury erroneous - Higher degree of care by railroad - Smoke and steam obstructed vision - Care towards automobile passenger and driver.

1. In the trial of a railroad crossing collision case where evidence adduced tended to show there was some smoke and steam which, because of atmospheric conditions, remained near the ground and obstructed the vision, it is erroneous to instruct the jury that by reason of such conditions "a higher degree of care" was required of the defendant company.

2. In such case it is also erroneous to indicate in the charge that the railroad company owes a higher degree of care to a passenger in than to the driver of an automobile approaching its crossing.

Hershel McLaughlin, while riding as a guest in an automobile, was struck and killed by a train of the New York Central Railroad Company at a crossing in Huron county. Action was brought by his administrator to recover damages for his death. The trial resulted in a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff. Upon proceeding in error to the Court of Appeals, that court reversed the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas and rendered judgment for the plaintiff in error. The case comes into this court on allowance of the motion to certify.

Messrs. Young & Young, for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Guilbert W. Martin, Mr. T. A. McCormack, Mr. H. N. Quigley and Mr. S.W. Baxter, for defendant in error.


In the course of the general charge, the trial court instructed the jury as follows: "If there [130 Ohio St. 528] was smoke and steam in the atmosphere, to the interruption of the vision of persons upon the highway a higher degree of care was required of the defendant-company than would have been had the atmosphere been clear and the vision good at this crossing under the circumstances which are undisputed with reference to the opportunities for vision. And whether or not the defendant-company failed to exercise the care which I have outlined to you as placed upon it in this situation is for your determination."

This was an unfortunate statement. Some evidence had been introduced which tended to show that shortly before the collision of an east-bound train and the automobile in which McLaughlin was riding, a train had passed in the opposite direction on the west-bound track...

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