Van Aernam v. Nielsen, No. 52794

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMASON
Citation261 Iowa 1115,157 N.W.2d 138
PartiesGary VAN AERMAN, Appellant, v. Carl NIELSEN, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 52794
Decision Date05 March 1968

Page 138

157 N.W.2d 138
261 Iowa 1115
Gary VAN AERMAN, Appellant,
v.
Carl NIELSEN, Appellee.
No. 52794.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
March 5, 1968.

[261 Iowa 1116]

Page 139

David E. Green and James Furey, Carroll, for appellant.

Taylor & Taylor, Guthrie Center, for appellee.

MASON, Justice.

The accident out of which this law action arose occurred about 5:30 p.m. November 16, 1964, on defendant Carl Nielsen's farm in Audubon County when plaintiff Gary Van Aernam's left hand and leg became caught in the rollers of defendant's mounted corn picking unit. Plaintiff was defendant's employee at the time of his injuries for which he seeks damages.

Plaintiff alleged defendant was negligent in failing to have [261 Iowa 1117] mud scrapers on the corn picking unit; failing to maintain safe machinery and appliances for plaintiff; failing to furnish plaintiff a safe place to work or safe premises to work on; allowing plaintiff to operate the corn picker when defendant knew the area where he had ordered plaintiff to pick corn was wet, muddy and hazardous and the picking unit was not operating properly; furnishing plaintiff with old, obsolete and dangerous

Page 140

machinery which was not suitable for picking corn; and failing to advise or warn plaintiff that the contoured field was too wet to pick corn.

By these specifications of negligence plaintiff in effect asserts defendant's conduct constituted a breach of his duty to (1) provide plaintiff with a safe place to work and (2) use reasonable care to provide and maintain for plaintiff reasonably suitable and safe appliances, machinery and tools with which to work.

At the conclusion of plaintiff's evidence to the jury, defendant's motion for a directed verdict on all grounds urged was sustained and plaintiff has appealed from the judgment entered on the verdict.

I. He assigns as error relied upon for reversal (1) sustaining of defendant's motion for directed verdict on the ground that (a) plaintiff failed to show a breach of duty owed by defendant, (b) plaintiff failed to show defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of plaintiff's injury and (c) as a matter of law plaintiff assumed the risk which caused his injuries; and (2) error in ruling on objections to plaintiff's evidence.

II. In Frederick v. Goff, 251 Iowa 290, 295, 100 N.W.2d 624, 627, in referring to the extent of defendant's duty in such cases we said:

'It is a settled rule that an employer must use reasonable care to provide and maintain for his employees reasonably suitable and safe appliances, machinery and tools with which to work.' See also Kregel v. Kann, Iowa, 152 N.W.2d 534, 536, and citations, where we said:

'However, the employer is not an insurer of the safety of the tools, machinery or appliances, nor of the safety of the [261 Iowa 1118] employee in using the instrumentalities furnished but is only liable for negligence (Citing authorities).

'The employer must exercise reasonable are to eliminate dangers which are not the usual or ordinary incidents of the service when he has exercised such care' (Citing authorities).

In determining whether the employer exercised reasonable care there is no absolute standard to which his conduct must conform. The law requires the employer in the performance of his duty to exercise that degree of care which a person of ordinary care and prudence would use under the same or similar circumstances. Although the employer's duty is to exercise reasonable care whether the work is comparatively safe or extremely dangerous, the duty becomes more imperative as the risk increases. Kregel v. Kann, supra, Iowa, 152 N.W.2d at 537--538.

III. With these principles in mind we consider the propriety of defendant's motion for directed verdict, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was made. Rule 344(f)(2), Rules of Civil Procedure.

The day before the accident it had rained, it was wet and foggy that night and muddy the next morning. The farm lot yards and the field where the accident occurred were wet and muddy. Plaintiff and defendant spent the morning working around the farmyard. After dinner defendant told plaintiff to start picking corn. The area in which he was to pick was on a contoured hillside, mostly clay. Plaintiff started picking corn about 2 p.m. using defendant's two-row corn picker which was about a 1950 model mounted on a later model diesel tractor, although the tractor itself was approximately 10 years old. The tractor did not have wheel cleaners on it. We are told wheel scrapers or mud cleaners are pieces of iron that sit flat between the front wheels, come out, split and go around the front wheels. Their purpose is to scrape the mud off the wheels so they don't slide, enabling you to guide the tractor.

In the fall and winter of 1963 and spring, summer and fall of 1964, plaintiff and defendant

Page 141

discussed the need for mud scrapers.

[261 Iowa 1119] The front wheels of this model tractor were set closely together. When used in mud without scrapers, these wheels had a tendency to clog and slide, making it difficult to steer, control and operate the unit on the corn rows. The center divider of the picker which hooked on the hubs of the front wheels was off. As a result, mud from the wheels was pushed up against and filled the picker snoots. These were pushed down and had to be cleaned.

As the wheels became clogged, the operator, in an effort to dislodge the mud, would reverse the tractor, pack up and then go forward. If not successful, this maneuver had to be repeated. Then if this failed it was necessary for the operator to get off the machine and dig the mud from the front wheels with his hands. Of course, this required him to stop the tractor, get off, walk around the picker, unhook the chain that raised the snoot, pinch two clips if they weren't bound tight and remove the snoot. Otherwise, a flap had to be pulled out and the mud dug from the clips so they could be squeezed together, the snoot removed and the mud...

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11 practice notes
  • Adams v. Deur, No. 53602
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 9, 1969
    ...885, 893, 114 N.W.2d 534, 538--539, 95 A.L.R.2d 673; In re Ronfeldt's Estate, Iowa, 152 N.W.2d 837, 846; and Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143.' See also 88 C.J.S. Trial §§ 123--130, pages 245--265, and 31 Am.Jur.2d, Expert and Opinion Evidence, section 64, page It is at best......
  • Hedges v. Conder, No. 53200
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...259 Iowa 930, 942, 146 N.W.2d 336, 344; Davidson v. Cooney, 259 Iowa 1278, 1283, 147 N.W.2d 819, 823; Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143; and Naxera v. Wathan, Iowa, 159 N.W.2d 513, 521, and citations in these In actions brought involving accidents which occurred on or subsequ......
  • Naxera v. Wathan, No. 52769
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 11, 1968
    ...his negligence has resulted in the harm. " Davidson v. Cooney, 259 Iowa 1278, 1283, 147 N.W.2d 819, 823; Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143. He argues a loss caused by a so-called Act of God must be met and overcome by plaintiff-bailor as a part of his burden of proof on the q......
  • Olson v. Katz, No. 54953
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 18, 1972
    ...maintain a reasonably safe place for his employees to work. It is both statutory and by judicial pronouncement. Van Aernam v. Nielsen, 261 Iowa 1115 at 1122, 157 N.W.2d 138 at 143 and authorities 'Speaking of the duty of the master or employer to furnish his employee reasonably safe instrum......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Adams v. Deur, No. 53602
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 9, 1969
    ...885, 893, 114 N.W.2d 534, 538--539, 95 A.L.R.2d 673; In re Ronfeldt's Estate, Iowa, 152 N.W.2d 837, 846; and Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143.' See also 88 C.J.S. Trial §§ 123--130, pages 245--265, and 31 Am.Jur.2d, Expert and Opinion Evidence, section 64, page It is at best......
  • Hedges v. Conder, No. 53200
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...259 Iowa 930, 942, 146 N.W.2d 336, 344; Davidson v. Cooney, 259 Iowa 1278, 1283, 147 N.W.2d 819, 823; Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143; and Naxera v. Wathan, Iowa, 159 N.W.2d 513, 521, and citations in these In actions brought involving accidents which occurred on or subsequ......
  • Naxera v. Wathan, No. 52769
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 11, 1968
    ...his negligence has resulted in the harm. " Davidson v. Cooney, 259 Iowa 1278, 1283, 147 N.W.2d 819, 823; Van Aernam v. Nielsen, Iowa, 157 N.W.2d 138, 143. He argues a loss caused by a so-called Act of God must be met and overcome by plaintiff-bailor as a part of his burden of proof on the q......
  • Olson v. Katz, No. 54953
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 18, 1972
    ...maintain a reasonably safe place for his employees to work. It is both statutory and by judicial pronouncement. Van Aernam v. Nielsen, 261 Iowa 1115 at 1122, 157 N.W.2d 138 at 143 and authorities 'Speaking of the duty of the master or employer to furnish his employee reasonably safe instrum......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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