Minneapolis St Louis Railroad Company v. Nora Gotschall, No. 251

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWhite
PartiesMINNEAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS RAILROAD COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. NORA GOTSCHALL, as Administratrix of the Estate of Merlin E. Gotschall, Deceased
Docket NumberNo. 251
Decision Date21 May 1917

244 U.S. 66
37 S.Ct. 598
61 L.Ed. 995
MINNEAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS RAILROAD COMPANY, Plff. in Err.,

v.

NORA GOTSCHALL, as Administratrix of the Estate of Merlin E. Gotschall, Deceased.

No. 251.
Argued and submitted April 9, 1917.
Decided May 21, 1917.

Messrs. William H. Bremner and Frederick M. Miner for plaintiff in error.

Messrs. Lyle Pettijohn and W. R. Duxbury for defendant in error.

Mr. Chief Justice White delivered the opinion of the court:

Basing her cause of action upon the Federal Employers' Liability Act, the defendant in error, as administratrix of the estate of Merlin E. Gotschall, deceased, sued to recover from the railroad company, plaintiff in error, damages resulting from his death, alleged to have been occasioned by the negligence of the company while he was in its employ, engaged in interstate commerce. On this writ of

Page 67

error a reversal is sought of the action of the court below in affirming a judgment entered by the trial court on the verdict of a jury in favor of the plaintiff.

The evidence tended to show the following facts: Gotschall, a minor, twenty years old, at the time in question was head brakeman on an extra freight train running from Albert Lea, Minnesota, to Minneapolis, and transporting interstate commerce merchandise. As the train left Jordan, an intermediate station, Gotschall boarded a car toward the rear end and was proceeding along the tops of the cars toward the locomotive when the train separated because of the opening of a coupler on one of the cars, resulting in an automatic setting of the emergency brakes and a sudden jerk, which threw Gotschall off the train and under the wheels.

The jury, under an instruction of the court, was permitted to infer negligence on the part of the company from the fact that the coupler failed to perform its function, there being no other proof of negligence. It is insisted this was error, since, as there was no other evidence of negligence on the part of the company, the instruction of the court was erroneous as, from whatever point of view looked at, it was but an application of the principle designated as res ipsa loquitur, a doctrine the unsoundness of which, it is said, plainly results from the decisions in Patton v. Texas & P. R. Co. 179 U. S. 658, 45 L. ed. 361, 21 Sup. Ct. Rep. 275, and Looney v. Metropolitan R. Co. 200 U. S. 480, 50 L. ed. 564, 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 303, 19 Am. Neg. Rep. 627. We think the contention is without merit because, conceding...

To continue reading

Request your trial
144 practice notes
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...1136; Fairport, P. & E.R. Co. v. Meredith, 292 U.S. 589, 54 S.Ct. 826, 78 L.Ed. 1446. Cf. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 37 S.Ct. 598, 61 L.Ed. 995; St. Louis & San Francisco R. Co. v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 35 S.Ct. 785, 59 L.Ed. 1290....
  • Crabtree v. Kurn, No. 38304.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 7, 1943
    ...U.S. 1, 49 L. Ed. 363, 25 S. Ct. 158; United States v. Philadelphia Ry. Co., 223 Fed. 215; Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 61 L. Ed. 995, 37 S. Ct. 598; Chicago, B. & Q.R. Co. v. United States, 220 U.S. 559, 55 L. Ed. 582, 31 S. Ct. 612; Delk v. St. L. & S.F. Ry. C......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...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. Un......
  • Gieseking v. Litchfield & Madison Ry. Co., No. 33850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 23, 1936
    ...Appliance Act. Chap. 48, Sec. 142, Smith-Hurd Ill. R.S. 1931; Page v. Payne, 240 S.W. 156; Minn. & St. L. Railroad Co. v. Gottschall, 244 U.S. 66; Texas & P. Railroad Co. v. Rigsby, 241 U.S. 41; Leheigh Valley Railroad Co. v. Howell, 6 Fed. (2d) 784, certiorari denied 268 U.S. 695; Atlantic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
144 cases
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...1136; Fairport, P. & E.R. Co. v. Meredith, 292 U.S. 589, 54 S.Ct. 826, 78 L.Ed. 1446. Cf. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 37 S.Ct. 598, 61 L.Ed. 995; St. Louis & San Francisco R. Co. v. Conarty, 238 U.S. 243, 35 S.Ct. 785, 59 L.Ed. 1290....
  • Crabtree v. Kurn, No. 38304.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 7, 1943
    ...U.S. 1, 49 L. Ed. 363, 25 S. Ct. 158; United States v. Philadelphia Ry. Co., 223 Fed. 215; Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 61 L. Ed. 995, 37 S. Ct. 598; Chicago, B. & Q.R. Co. v. United States, 220 U.S. 559, 55 L. Ed. 582, 31 S. Ct. 612; Delk v. St. L. & S.F. Ry. C......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...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. Un......
  • Gieseking v. Litchfield & Madison Ry. Co., No. 33850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 23, 1936
    ...Appliance Act. Chap. 48, Sec. 142, Smith-Hurd Ill. R.S. 1931; Page v. Payne, 240 S.W. 156; Minn. & St. L. Railroad Co. v. Gottschall, 244 U.S. 66; Texas & P. Railroad Co. v. Rigsby, 241 U.S. 41; Leheigh Valley Railroad Co. v. Howell, 6 Fed. (2d) 784, certiorari denied 268 U.S. 695; Atlantic......
  • 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