Redmond v. Delta Lumber Co.

Decision Date26 July 1893
Citation55 N.W. 1004,96 Mich. 545
CourtMichigan Supreme Court
PartiesREDMOND v. DELTA LUMBER CO.

Error to circuit court, Schoolcraft county; Joseph H. Steere Judge.

Action by Edmond G. Redmond against the Delta Lumber Company for personal injuries caused by defendant's negligence. From a judgment entered on the verdict of a jury in favor of defendant, plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Moore &amp Moore, C. W. Dunton, and J. W. McMahon, for appellee.

HOOKER C.J.

The plaintiff was employed to operate a machine called a "jack," used for drawing logs into defendant's sawmill.

This jack consisted of an endless chain, upon which the logs were held by iron spurs, and was operated by power applied through iron gearing to one of the pulleys upon which the endless chain ran by means of a belt running upon a friction pulley. This belt was loose, and was designed to run the jack when it was tightened, by bringing a third and movable pulley down upon the belt, which was done by pulling down a lever. When the lever was released, the effect was to remove this pulley, thereby loosening the belt, and stopping the machine. The heavier the load upon the jack, the more power was required upon the lever to keep the jack in motion owing to the tendency of the belt to slip upon the pulley. Logs drawn up by the jack were unloaded upon skids on either side of the jack, and from the skids to the carriages upon which they were sawed. The skids being nearly full, plaintiff drew a log up with the jack, which, falling upon the skids, crowded another log against a log upon the saw carriage, which in some way caused one of the logs to be thrown against plaintiff, seriously injuring him. The cause of the accident appears to have been the failure to stop the jack. Plaintiff claims to have released the lever, and that the jack did not stop as it should have done.

Plaintiff's counsel contends that the failure of the machine to stop when the lever was released raises a presumption of negligence thereby making it necessary for defendant to show an absence of negligence upon its part. On the other hand, the defendant maintains that plaintiff's failure to release the lever caused the accident. Proof was offered to the effect that the jack worked properly immediately after the accident, and the plaintiff himself testifies that it had worked properly for 60 days before, and up to the time when he was hurt, when it suddenly failed to respond to the release of the lever. No proof was offered which tended to show that the machine was out of repair, unless the testimony that it failed to work was such proof. Counsel for plaintiff contends that, if the jury should find that the accident resulted from the failure of the machine to respond to the release of the lever, it necessarily follows that it was from abnormal causes, and that in such case the law presumes negligence, and the onus is upon the defendant to show the cause of this accident, or at least that it was not due to its fault. He cites a number of authorities, several of which are New York cases, to sustain his view of the law. They seem to be cases of injury to passengers by carriers, or to property by warehousemen, in both of which classes of cases the defendants are under obligations to exercise a high degree of diligence. Without implying that the rule contended for is the law of this state in such cases, (a matter upon which we find it unnecessary to express an opinion,) the doctrine cannot be applied to the facts in ...

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