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Argument for Plaintiff in Error.
TEXAS & PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY v. SWEAR
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH
No. 48. Submitted November 3, 1904.- Decided December 19, 1904.
An employé is entitled to assume that his employer has used due care to
provide reasonably safe appliances for the doing of his work. Knowledge of the increased hazard resulting from the negligent location in dangerous proximity to a railroad track of a structure will not be imputed to an employé, using ordinary diligence to avoid it if properly located, because he was aware of its existence and general location. It is for the jury to determine from all the evidence whether he had actual knowledge of the danger.
The facts are stated in the opinion.
Mr. John F. Dillon, Mr. D. D. Duncan and Mr. T. J. Freeman for plaintiff in error:
In every case before the evidence is left to the jury, there is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any evidence upon which a jury can properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it, upon whom the burden of proof is imposed. Improvement Co. v. Munson, 14 Wall. 448; Commissioners &c. v. Clark, 94 U. S. 278, 284; Pleasants v. Fant, 22 Wall. 120; Randall v. B. & 0. Ry. Co., 109 U. S. 482; Railway Co. v. Converse, 139 U. S. 469; Schofield v. C., M. & St. P. Ry. Co., 114 U. S. 615; Steamship Co. v. Merchant, 133 U. S. 375.
When a servant enters into the employment of another he assumes all the risks ordinarily incident to the business. He is presumed to have contracted in reference to all the hazards and risks ordinarily incident to the employment; consequently he cannot recover for injuries resulting to him therefrom.
The servant takes the risks of the master's mode of con
Argument for Plaintiff in Error.
196 U. S.
ducting his business, though a safer one might be followed, if the servant fully knows the risk and continues to work.
There are risks and dangers incident to most employments, those risks the parties have in view when engagements for services are made, and in consideration of which the rate of compensation is fixed. In all engagements of this character the servant assumes those risks that are incident to the service, and as between himself and the master he is supposed to have contracted on those terms, and if an injury is sustained by the servant in that service, it is regarded as an accident, and the misfortune must rest on him. Woods' Master & Servant, 2d ed. $ 326; 3 Woods' Railway Law, $ 370, p. 1452; 14 Am. & Eng. Ency. of Law, 843, 845; Tex. & Pac. Ry. Co. v. Minnick, 57 Fed. Rep. 362; Tuttle v. Railway, 122 U. S. 189; Randall v. Railway, 109 U. S. 478; H. & T.C. Ry. Co. v. Conrad, 62 Texas, 627; Woodworth v. St. P., M. & M. Ry. Co., 18 Fed. Rep. 282; Mo. Pac. Ry. Co. v. Summers, 71 Texas, 700; Green v. Cross & Eddy, Receivers, 79 Texas, 130; Naylor v. Railway Co., 5 Am. & Eng. R. R. Cases, 406; Wonder v. Baltimore Ry. Co., 32 Maryland, 411; Crilly v. Texas & Pac. Ry. Co., 53 Am. & Eng. R. R. Cases, 104; Kohn v. McNulty, Receiver, 147 U.S. 238.
When the proof establishes a usage or custom, the presumption is that the employé contracted with regard to said usage or custom, and if he seeks to avoid its force and effect, the burden is upon him to show that its existence had been concealed from him by the company, and that he did not know of same, nor could have known of same, by the use of ordinary diligence. Watson v. Railway Co., 58 Texas, 438; St. Louis & S. W. v. Spivey, 73 S. W. Rep. 973.
It is the duty of the master to advise the servant, or to inform him, of the dangers incident to the employment, if the servant is ignorant of them. If the dangers are obvious and patent, and the servant advises himself, of course the duty of being advised by the master would not be imposed. Gulf, Colo. & S. Fé Ry. Co. v. Darby, 57 S. W. Rep. 446.
Mr. Leigh Clark for defendant in error, cited Cent. Trust Co. v. E. T. V. & G. Ry. Co., 73 Fed. Rep. 661; Tex. & Pac. Ry. Co. v. Archibald, 170 U. S. 674; George v. Clark, 85 Fed. Rep. 607; Gulf, Colo. & S. Fé Ry. Co. v. Darby, 67 S. W. Rep. (Texas) 446; G., H. & S. A. Ry. Co. v. Mortson, 71 S. W. Rep. (Texas) 707; Grand Trunk Ry. Co. v. Ives, 144 U. S. 408, 417; Gardner v. Mich. Cent. Ry. Co., 150 U. S. 349, 361; Richmond & D. Ry. Co. v. Powers, 149 U. S. 44; Mo. Pac. Ry. Co. v. Everett, 161 U. S. 451.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.
This suit was commenced in a state court by W. W. Swearingen, the defendant in error, and, on the application of the defendant, the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, was removed to the Circuit Court of the United States as one arising under the laws of the United States, because the railway company was chartered under an act of Congress.
The action was to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by reason of the alleged negligence of the defendant company, in whose service at the time of the injury the plaintiff was employed as a switchman. The negligence alleged on the part of the company was the existence, in close proximity to a switch track, of a scale box, by striking against which the plaintiff was injured whilst doing duty as a switchman. In addition to a general denial the railway company specially pleaded that the scale box in question was at a safe distance from the track on which the plaintiff was hurt when working and, moreover, that the plaintiff had assumed the risk, if any, arising from the situation of the scale box, and had in any event been guilty of contributory negligence. There was a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff, and an affirmance of such judgment by the Court of Appeals. 122 Fed. Rep. 193.
The assignments of error are based, first, on a ruling of the trial court in rejecting evidence; second, on the refusal to direct a verdict; and, third, on an exception taken to the charge
given to the jury. To pass upon them requires an appreciation of the proof, and, therefore, before coming to consider the assignments, we summarize the testimony.
The accident occurred after dark on the evening of February 7, 1902, in the switch yard at El Paso. It was shown that in that yard there were several tracks. One track, No. 1, ran over the bed of the scales in question. On the right of this scale there was what was called a scale box, which rose to about the height of six feet, and was about five feet wide and eighteen inches deep. On the other side of this structure there was a track described as track No. 2, and beyond this, to the right, were two other tracks, known respectively as track No. 3 and track No. 4. The space between a ladder on the side of a freight car when moving on track No. 2 and the scale box in question was shown by the evidence to be only 191 inches.
The plaintiff testified concerning the accident as follows:
"I was hurt on the evening of the 7th of February, 1902, while working as a switchman after dark, at about 6 o'clock and 45 minutes.
“I was a day switchman, but we worked until after dark,
“My duties as a switchman were to assist in the moving, placing and switching of cars, coupling and uncoupling them, and making up trains, and generally to obey the order of Yardmaster Moore, under whom we were working, and my duties also required me to ride on the cars while they were being moved.
“On this night we were making up a transfer to take to the Southern Pacific Railway, and the cars we had to get were on No. 2 track. My station was with the engine, called 'following the engine. I worked up near the engine.
“The engine was at the west end of the yard, west of track No. 2, with me with it, and it backed down east into No. 2 track, with me riding on the footboard at the east end of the engine, to get these cars, and we passed the scale box, although I did not see it, and reaching the cars I coupled the engine to them, and not getting a signal from the yardmaster, who was still
farther east of me, as was also the other switchman, Williams, I walked east down the string of cars about two car lengths, and getting the signal I passed the same to the engineer, and the engine and cars started up again going west so as to go out on another track, and as the cars started I got up on a box car to ride down past the switch at the west end of track No. 2, so as to throw the switch and let the train on another track.
“There is a ladder on the side of a box car, and a step called a stirrup under the ladder under the bottom of the car, and I was holding on to the ladder with my hands (illustrating by holding his hands above his head as if climbing a ladder), and my lantern was hanging on my right arm, and I was looking back east for a signal from the yardmaster, as it is my duty to do. I do not know whether he wanted to give one or not, but it is my duty to be on the lookout, although I do not have to look in his direction all the time, when my right shoulder struck the scale box, and I fell down between the scale box and the cars, and I was dragged and badly injured. We had
, probably eight or ten cars at the time, and I was riding properly and hanging out a little from the car, which is proper, and I was on the north side of the car, which is also proper, so as to signal the engineer."
The employé who built the scales testified as follows:
“It is my business to know how much a car passing on a side track will clear the scale box, and these tracks at this place are standard gauge apart, and the scale box is standard, and as I had to put the scale box there to facilitate business and for convenience, I had no more room because the lever of the scale is a certain length to get the fulcrum. The tracks are standard, and are not farther apart, because there is no more room to put them farther apart.
“The distance that I put this scale box from track No. 2 is standard, and is considered a safe and proper distance in putting in scales where the tracks are standard guage apart.