Minahan v. Grand Trunk Western Ry. Co., 1,360.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Citation138 F. 37
Docket Number1,360.
PartiesMINAHAN v. GRAND TRUNK WESTERN RY. CO.
Decision Date15 June 1905

138 F. 37

MINAHAN
v.
GRAND TRUNK WESTERN RY.
CO.

No. 1,360.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

June 15, 1905


Dickinson, Stevenson, Cullen, Warren & Butzel (Maybury, Lucking, Emmons & Helfman, of counsel), for plaintiff in error.

H. Geer, for defendant in error.

Before LURTON, SEVERENS, and RICHARDS, Circuit Judges.

SEVERENS, Circuit Judge.

The case brought up by this writ of error is an action instituted in the court below by the plaintiff in error to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by him in consequence, as he alleges, of the negligence of the defendant while he was a passenger on a car of defendant's passenger train, whereby the car was thrown from its track against an engine standing on [138 F. 38] a side track at or near Millets Station, a few miles west of Lansing, Mich., on the night of April 5, 1902. The defendant pleaded the general issue, which, under the Michigan statute relating to pleadings in actions at law, is equivalent to a plea of not guilty. The issue was tried before a jury, and at the conclusion of the evidence adduced by the respective parties the court, at the request of the defendant, instructed the jury to return a verdict for the defendant. No question arises upon the pleadings. There are 53 rulings of the court assigned as errors. But as we are of opinion that the court erred in taking the case from the jury by its peremptory instruction, we shall pass all other questions, and, after attending to certain objections of the defendant in error, proceed to a statement of the reasons which lead to our conclusion upon the propriety of the general instruction given by the court. To do this, we must needs make a more particular statement of the case.

The plaintiff had taken a ticket at South Bend, Ind., for a passage over the defendant's road to Detroit. There were seven cars in front of the one on which the plaintiff was riding, and one, a sleeper, behind. The train left South Bend at 11:30 p.m., and at 3:30 in the morning was passing through Millets Station at a speed of 45 miles an hour. Some time before that a long freight train drawn by two engines, coming from the east, had passed off the main track, and was standing on a side track on the south side of the main track and parallel therewith, awaiting the passage of the passenger train, No. 6, on which the plaintiff was riding. There was a switch at the west end of the side track, and some distance west of the station house, leading into the main track, and the switch was adjusted so as to leave the main track clear for the passage through of the passenger train. This switch was of parallel rails, which at the movable end were thin, running to a point, and lying against the side of the rail when closed. The engine of the passenger train and seven cars passed over the switch safely. The forward truck of the plaintiff's car also kept the main track, but the switch apparently opened before the rear truck reached it, and the rear end of the car was carried off to the right, and the car thrown with great violence against the engine standing in the front end of the freight train. One of the passengers in the car was killed; several were seriously injured, among them the plaintiff, who was so grievously hurt that he is crippled for life. The cause of the accident was the dislocation of the switch bar at the joint where its two parts are united, whereby the part (which for convenience is called here part 2) carrying at their proper distance apart the front or movable ends of the switch rails was left unattached to the part (called part 1) coming from the switch stand, and the forward end of the switch was left floating, i.e., without any lateral fastening. Apparently, also, the concussion and jar of the passenger train had to do with the dislocation of the switch bars and the lateral movement of the fore end of the switch whereby it became opened. Until the afternoon of the day before the accident the switch stand had stood upon the south side of the tracks, but on that afternoon it was moved over to the north side of the tracks to make way for the [138 F. 39] removal of the station house to the former site of the switch stand. And in transferring the switch stand to the north side it became necessary to detach part 2 of the switch bar from the switch rails and reverse its position, end for end, and again securing it to the rails of the switch. Part 2 was also detached from part 1 at the joint between them. Part 1 was carried over with the switch stand; the two long ties on the projection of which the stand rested were slid under the rails to the north, to form the projection for the stand there. The stand was relocated, parts 1 and 2 connected up, and the switch made to operate. This was finished at the close of the day's work. We have said that parts 1 and 2 were 'connected up.' But as the controversy is centered at this point, it is necessary to describe in detail the mode of this connection. This end of part 1 is flat and rounded at the extremity, near which a perpendicular hole is made in such wise that a loop is formed around the pin to be inserted in the hole, which loop is of a nearly even thickness around the sides and fore end of the bar. On the connecting end of part 2 a pin is secured perpendicularly, which enters the hole in the end of part 1. Then, in order to hold the end of part 1 down on the pin of part 2, a clip is riveted upon part 2 further back than the pin, is carried up the thickness of the end of part 1, and then carried parallel to part 2 part way over the rim or loop on the end of part 1. When the parts are formed in this manner, the only way of detaching them is by bending the free end of the clip upward and backward far enough to make space for lifting the loop off the pin. Some of the witnesses testified that this was the form of the parts of this switch bar. When these parts of the bar were first seen after the accident, the clip was thus turned up out of its normal place. Another form of making the parts of the bar is to carry out a projection, or tongue, on the end of part 1 beyond the pinhole. Then the clip on part 2 is made shorter at the free end so as to rest on the tongue only. In this form the parts may be readily disengaged by turning them at right angles to each other, thus carrying the tongue from under the clip. This is the form in which some other of the witnesses testify this switch bar was made. If this was so, there was no need of meddling with the clip, if the sectionman understood his business. But he says he was required to work expeditiously in order to get the switch in order for the passage of trains, and he had not much familiarity with switches. He had two men to help him, but they belonged to another branch of the service. He testified that after the accident he tried to bend the clip back to its place by hammering it with a fish plate, and, not succeeding completely with this, the superintendent of the tracks who had come to the place, hammered it back to place with an iron maul. The bar was then put in its proper place, and used two days after.

During the course of the trial the defendant produced before the court and jury the parts of a switch bar which some of its witnesses testified was the identical switch bar in question which had been taken out two days after the accident and preserved for testimony. Part 1 of this switch bar had a projection on the end where it connected [138 F. 40] with part 2. Several witnesses for the plaintiff, who examined the bar on the morning after the accident to discover the cause of it, testified that it was not the same bar, and two professors of engineering and metallurgy from the University of Michigan testified that the clip bore no signs of having been hammered back to place, as it would have done if it had been the original bar. We cannot further prolong this statement of the evidence.

Two preliminary questions are raised by counsel for defendant which it is urged should first be settled before the merits are considered:

First. It is contended that from lapse of time after the trial the court had lost its authority to settle the bill of exceptions, and that it is therefore a mere nullity. The verdict was rendered June 30, 1903. The term then pending expired on the first Tuesday of November following. No judgment was rendered during that term. But on October 19, 1903, the court ordered that the time for settling a bill of exceptions should be extended until January 2, 1904. By successive orders the time was further extended until the time when the bill was settled, July 18, 1904, and thereupon the court entered judgment on the verdict for defendant. Meantime Mr. Meddaugh, the attorney of record for defendant, had, on December 20th, died, and the defendant had not appointed another. On April 20th counsel for plaintiff served a proposed bill of exceptions on Geer & Williams, who had managed and tried the cause as counsel for defendant. They made no objection to the service on account of Mr. Meddaugh's death, but took no action with reference to the settlement of the bill. On June 4th the plaintiff gave notice to the defendant to appoint a new attorney, as provided by a Michigan statute. This notice was ignored by defendant, and on the 8th of July the court made an order which, after reciting the notice and that no appearance had been entered for defendant, directed the defendant to show cause on the 11th of that month why the bill of exceptions which had been served on Geer & Williams should not be settled. On that day Geer & Williams and F. E. Rankin 'appearing specially,' as the record states, and, on an affidavit of Mr. Rankin stating the death of the attorney of record and that the extensions of time for settling a bill were made ex parte, moved that the order to show cause be dismissed. The motion was denied, and, on request of counsel for defendant, the time for settling the...

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51 practice notes
  • Farmers' Nat. Bank of Tecumseh v. Mccall, Case Number: 358
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • 18 January 1910
    ...v. Brennan, 104 Wis. 564; Stauff v. Bingenheimer (Wis.) 102 N.W. 694; Pappitz v. Insurance Co., 85 Minn. 118; Minahan v. Grand, etc., Co., 138 F. 37; German Am. Bank v. Cunningham, 89 N.Y.S. 836. A. B. Honnold, for defendant in error.--Citing: Richardson v. Fellner, 9 Okla. 513; Meyer v. We......
  • Toledo, St. L. & W.R. Co. v. Howe, 2,112.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 7 November 1911
    ...or irrelevant matter not carrying the quality of 'proof' or having fitness to induce conviction. ' Minahan v. Grand Trunk, etc., Ry. Co., 138 F. 37, 46, 70 C.C.A. 463, 472. In which case he says also: (the Supreme Court) has by distinct and definite rulings declared that, if there is any su......
  • WA Hover & Co. v. Denver & RGWR Co., No. 7171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 21 February 1927
    ...other instructions, or for the submission of disputed questions of fact to the jury. Minahan v. Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. (C. C. A.) 138 F. 37; Sigua Iron Co. v. Greene (C. C. A.) 88 F. 207; Empire State Cattle Co. v. Atchison Ry. Co., 210 U. S. 1, 9, 28 S. Ct. 607, 52 L. Ed. 931, 15 ......
  • Parker v. Plympton, 11900.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 24 December 1928
    ...Judge Severens, speaking for the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Minahan v. Grand, Trunk Western R. Co., 70 C.C.A. 463, 138 F. 37, 41, and was also lucidly stated the concurring opinion of Shelby, Circuit Judge, in McCormack [McCormick] v. National City Bank of Waco, 73 C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
51 cases
  • Farmers' Nat. Bank of Tecumseh v. Mccall, Case Number: 358
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • 18 January 1910
    ...v. Brennan, 104 Wis. 564; Stauff v. Bingenheimer (Wis.) 102 N.W. 694; Pappitz v. Insurance Co., 85 Minn. 118; Minahan v. Grand, etc., Co., 138 F. 37; German Am. Bank v. Cunningham, 89 N.Y.S. 836. A. B. Honnold, for defendant in error.--Citing: Richardson v. Fellner, 9 Okla. 513; Meyer v. We......
  • Toledo, St. L. & W.R. Co. v. Howe, 2,112.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 7 November 1911
    ...or irrelevant matter not carrying the quality of 'proof' or having fitness to induce conviction. ' Minahan v. Grand Trunk, etc., Ry. Co., 138 F. 37, 46, 70 C.C.A. 463, 472. In which case he says also: (the Supreme Court) has by distinct and definite rulings declared that, if there is any su......
  • WA Hover & Co. v. Denver & RGWR Co., No. 7171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 21 February 1927
    ...other instructions, or for the submission of disputed questions of fact to the jury. Minahan v. Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. (C. C. A.) 138 F. 37; Sigua Iron Co. v. Greene (C. C. A.) 88 F. 207; Empire State Cattle Co. v. Atchison Ry. Co., 210 U. S. 1, 9, 28 S. Ct. 607, 52 L. Ed. 931, 15 ......
  • Parker v. Plympton, 11900.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • 24 December 1928
    ...Judge Severens, speaking for the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Minahan v. Grand, Trunk Western R. Co., 70 C.C.A. 463, 138 F. 37, 41, and was also lucidly stated the concurring opinion of Shelby, Circuit Judge, in McCormack [McCormick] v. National City Bank of Waco, 73 C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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