San Antonio Aransas Pass Railway Company v. William Wagner, No. 311

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPitney
Citation241 U.S. 476,36 S.Ct. 626,60 L.Ed. 1110
PartiesSAN ANTONIO & ARANSAS PASS RAILWAY COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. WILLIAM WAGNER
Docket NumberNo. 311
Decision Date05 June 1916

241 U.S. 476
36 S.Ct. 626
60 L.Ed. 1110
SAN ANTONIO & ARANSAS PASS RAILWAY COMPANY, Plff. in Err.,

v.

WILLIAM WAGNER.

No. 311.
Submitted April 14, 1916.
Decided June 5, 1916.

Page 477

Messrs. Robert J. Boyle, Rufus S. Day, Samuel Herrick, and A. B. Storey for plaintiff in error.

Messrs. H. C. Carter, Perry J. Lewis, and John Sehorn for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Pitney delivered the opinion of the court:

The judgment that is brought under review by this writ of error is the outcome of an action begun in the district court of Bexar county, Texas, by defendant in error against plaintiff in error, resulting in a judgment in his favor. This was affirmed by the court of civil appeals, a rehearing was denied (166 S. W. 24, 28), and our writ of error is directed to that court because the supreme court of Texas refused to review the judgment.

We shall describe the parties according to their attitude in the trial court. Plaintiff's petition alleged that on October 18, 1911, he was employed as a brakeman by defendant, a common carrier by railroad engaged in both interstate and intrastate commerce; that defendant had in use in both kinds of commerce a certain engine and a

Page 478

certain car, and it became plaintiff's duty to couple them together; that the couplers would not couple automatically by impact, as required by law, 'and for the purpose of making said coupling it became necessary for the plaintiff to stand upon the footboard of said engine, between said engine and car, and to shove the knuckle of the coupler on said engine so as to bring it into proper position to make the coupling as aforesaid;' that plaintiff placed his left foot against the knuckle of the coupler of the engine for the purpose of pushing it into position, when he lost his balance, slipped and fell, and his left foot was caught between the couplers and crushed. Defendant interposed a general denial and certain special defenses, which latter were struck out on demurrer. They set up that defendant was a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce, and invoked the provisions of the Federal safety appliance act of March 2, 1893 (chap. 196, 27 Stat. at L. 531, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8605), and the amendment of March 2, 1903 (chap. 976, 32 Stat. at L. 943, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8613), averring that all couplers attached to railroad engines, tenders, or cars must have sufficient lateral motion to permit trains to round the curves, and must be provided with adjustable knuckles which can be opened and closed, and such couplers must be adjusted at times in order that they may couple automatically by impact, and that there is no kind of automatic coupler constructed or that can be constructed which will couple automatically at all times without previous adjustment, because of the lateral play necessary to enable coupled cars to round curves; that the engine and car upon which plaintiff was employed at the time of his injury were engaged in interstate commerce, and were equipped with automatic couplers which would couple automatically by impact as required by the acts of Congress, but an adjustment was necessary for this purpose, and could have been made by the plaintiff going between the cars while they were standing, but without going between the ends of the cars while in motion, or

Page 479

between a moving engine and cars, and without kicking the coupling or in any manner endangering his own personal safety; with more to the same effect.

At the trial the evidence tended to show that plaintiff was engaged in switching at one of defendant's yards, and was riding upon the footboard at the rear of the engine in order to make a coupling between it and a box car; that at the first impact—to use plaintiff's words—'the coupling wouldn't make; I coupled up against them but it wouldn't make.' He then signaled the engineer to draw ahead, and this having been done, he adjusted the knuckle and pin upon the box car, and 'I gave the engineer a back-up signal to couple in again, and I got back on the footboard of the engine; when I got on the footboard I looked down and I seen the drawhead on the engine was shifted way over to my side, and I reached up with my left foot to shift the drawhead over so it would couple, and my right foot slipped on the wet footboard;' as a result of which his left foot was caught between the drawheads and crushed. He testified that at the first impact the drawhead on the engine was in line with that on the box car, and that the only thing that prevented the coupling at this time was the failure of the pin on the box car to drop. And further: 'When the coupling apparatus of these automatic couplers are in proper condition and they are properly connected, they couple by impact automatically; . . . when the brakeman couples a car, he pulls a lever on the outside of the car; that opens the knuckle—that raises the pin and opens the coupler up; then all he has to do is to give a signal and they back right up. He has nothing to do with reference to fixing the knuckle, or anything of that sort.' He testified in effect that the coupler was out of order. The court of civil appeals held that, so far as this was...

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168 practice notes
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...a violation of the safety appliance act as 'negligence,' what is sometimes called negligence per se.' San Antonio & A.P.R. Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 484, 36 S.Ct. 626, 630, 60 L.Ed. 1110. In this view the Safety Appliance Acts, together with the Boiler Inspection Act, are substantively i......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...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. Rail......
  • Gieseking v. Litchfield & Madison Ry. Co., No. 33850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 23, 1936
    ...Employers' Liability Act, if he was engaged in interstate work at the time of his injury. [San Antonio & A.P. Railroad Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 36 Sup. Ct. 626, 60 L. Ed. 1110; Chicago G.W. Railroad Co. v. Schendel, 267 U.S. 287, 45 Sup. Ct. 303, 69 L. Ed. 614, and cases cited; McAllist......
  • Brady v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 33525.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 24, 1937
    ...Minneapolis & St. L. Railroad Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 37 Sup. Ct. 598, 61 L. Ed. 95; San Antonio & A.T. Railroad Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 36 Sup. Ct. 626, 60 L. Ed. 1110; Henry v. Railroad Co., 61 S.W. (2d) 341; Delk v. Railroad Co., 220 U.S. 580, 31 Sup. Ct. 617, 55 L. Ed. 590; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
168 cases
  • Urie v. Thompson, No. 129
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1949
    ...a violation of the safety appliance act as 'negligence,' what is sometimes called negligence per se.' San Antonio & A.P.R. Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 484, 36 S.Ct. 626, 630, 60 L.Ed. 1110. In this view the Safety Appliance Acts, together with the Boiler Inspection Act, are substantively i......
  • Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32531.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 30, 1935
    ...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. Rail......
  • Gieseking v. Litchfield & Madison Ry. Co., No. 33850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 23, 1936
    ...Employers' Liability Act, if he was engaged in interstate work at the time of his injury. [San Antonio & A.P. Railroad Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 36 Sup. Ct. 626, 60 L. Ed. 1110; Chicago G.W. Railroad Co. v. Schendel, 267 U.S. 287, 45 Sup. Ct. 303, 69 L. Ed. 614, and cases cited; McAllist......
  • Brady v. Terminal Railroad Assn., No. 33525.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 24, 1937
    ...Minneapolis & St. L. Railroad Co. v. Gotschall, 244 U.S. 66, 37 Sup. Ct. 598, 61 L. Ed. 95; San Antonio & A.T. Railroad Co. v. Wagner, 241 U.S. 476, 36 Sup. Ct. 626, 60 L. Ed. 1110; Henry v. Railroad Co., 61 S.W. (2d) 341; Delk v. Railroad Co., 220 U.S. 580, 31 Sup. Ct. 617, 55 L. Ed. 590; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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