St Joseph Grand Island Railway Company v. Ralph Moore

Decision Date06 March 1917
Docket NumberNo. 573,573
Citation61 L.Ed. 741,37 S.Ct. 278,243 U.S. 311
PartiesST. JOSEPH & GRAND ISLAND RAILWAY COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. RALPH W. MOORE
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. Robert A. Brown for plaintiff in error.

Mr. John G. Parkinson for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Clarke delivered the opinion of the court:

Moore, the defendant in error, was in the employ of the plaintiff in error as a brakeman, and was desperately injured on June 9, 1910. His claim is that, at the moment of the accident, he was engaged in adjusting a defective automatic coupler on the rear end of the tender of an engine, which was started unexpectedly, causing him to be thrown from his feet by the steam hose equipment, which hung down to within a few inches of the surface of the track, and that, in part because the tender was not equipped with grab irons or handholds, as required by the Federal law, he fell helpless under the wheels and lost both of his hands.

He recovered a judgment in the trial court, which was affirmed by the supreme court of Missouri, and the case is here on writ of error.

The applicability of the Employers's Liability Act to the case was admitted from the beginning; but nevertheless a petition was promptly filed for the removal of the case to the United States circuit court on the ground of diversity of citizenship. This petition was denied, and the claim that this denial constitutes reversible error is now argued here, albeit somewhat faintly. The claim is wholly without merit, as is apparent from the plain reading of the Federal Employers' Liability Act, and as is determined in Kansas City Southern R. Co. v. Leslie, 238 U. S. 599, 59 L. ed. 1478, 35 Sup. Ct. Rep. 844, and in Southern R. Co. v. Lloyd, 239 U. S. 496, 60 L. ed. 402, 36 Sup. Ct. Rep. 210.

It is claimed, with much apparent confidence, that no substantial evidence appears in the record to support the judgment of the state courts, and that, under the authority of Southern P. Co. v. Pool, 160 U. S. 438, 40 L. ed. 485, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 338, the judgment should be reversed. An inspection of the record satisfies us that substantial testimony was introduced in support of the claimed negligence of the railroad company, and that, applying the usual rule, the result cannot be disturbed on this claim.

But chief emphasis, perhaps, is laid on the argument upon the claim that the trial court erred in refusing to say to the jury, as a matter of law, that 'any iron rod or iron device securely fastened upon the end of defendant's tender to which employees could conveniently catch hold while in the performance of their duties in coupling or uncoupling cars was a handhold or grab iron within the meaning of the law,' and that, therefore, if the vertical iron handhold and iron rod—pin lifting or uncoupling lever—extending across the tender just above the coupler, were so designed and constructed as to permit employees engaged in coupling or uncoupling cars to readily grasp them for their better security while in the performance of such work, the defendant was not guilty of negligence in failing to provide necessary and proper handholds or grab irons, and the plaintiff cannot recover for any injury sustained from lack of them on the engine tender.

The trial court gave this request as the law of the case, but provided, only, the jury should find 'that said attachments or devices furnished reasonable security to the employees of defendant in coupling and uncoupling said tender and cars.' The railroad company excepted to this modification of its request to charge, and argues now that to so modify it was error.

We quite agree with the supreme court of Missouri in its conclusion that the giving of the company's request, even as modified by the trial court, was error in its favor, being much more than it deserved under the law.

Section 4 of the Safety Appliance Statute provides: 'It shall be unlawful for any railroad company to use any car in interstate commerce that is not provided with secure grab irons or handholds in the ends and sides of each car for greater security to the men in...

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35 cases
  • Ferguson v. Cormack Lines
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 25, 1957
    ...Co. v. Whitacre, 242 U.S. 169, 37 S.Ct. 33, 61 L.Ed. 228; affirmance of judgment for plaintiff affirmed. St. Joseph & G.I.R. Co. v. Moore, 243 U.S. 311, 37 S.Ct. 278, 61 L.Ed. 741; affirmance of judgment for plaintiff affirmed. New York Central & H.R. Co. v. Tonsellito, 244 U.S. 360, 37 S.C......
  • Wynn v. Philip Morris, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • April 28, 1999
    ...be removed to the federal court, although violation of the Safety Appliance Acts is involved. See St. Joseph & G.I.R. Co. v. Moore, 243 U.S. 311, [37 S.Ct. 278, 61 L.Ed. 741 (1917)]. With respect to injuries sustained in interstate commerce, nothing in the Safety Appliance Acts precluded th......
  • Mississippi Power & Light Co. v. Smith
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 12, 1934
    ... ... Company and another. From an adverse judgment, defendants ... Humphrey, 83 ... Miss. 739; Moore v. Johnson, 103 Va. 88; M. & O ... R. v ... 372; ... Warax v. Cincinnati, etc., Railway Co., 72 F. 637; ... Scherer v. Foster, 5 F.2d ... ...
  • Moore v. Chesapeake Ry Co
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 5, 1934
    ...it cannot be removed to the federal court, although violation of the Safety Appliance Acts is involved. See St. Joseph & G.I.R. Co. v. Moore, 243 U.S. 311, 37 S.Ct. 278, 61 L.Ed. 741. With respect to injuries sustained in intrastate commerce, nothing in the Safety Appliance Acts precluded t......
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