Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Ry. Co. v. Hall
232 U.S. 94 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Ry. Co. v. Hall, 232 U.S. 94 (1914)

Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Railway Company v. Hall

No. 68

Submitted November 13, 1913

Decided January 5, 1914

232 U.S. 94

Syllabus

On an appeal from the territorial court, this Court cannot consider errors, not fundamental in character, which might have been, but were not, brought under review in the appellate court below.

Where the local practice of the Territory requires specific assignments of error and treats all others as waived, and the transcript filed here does not contain the assignment of errors below, this Court confines itself to errors mentioned in the opinion of the appellate court below.

Whether an accident did or did not occur in a manner theoretically impossible according to expert opinions of defendant's witnesses is properly submitted to tho jury if there is evidence to sustain the plaintiff's contention and if the court cannot hold as a conclusion of law that the accident could not possibly have occurred in that manner.

One employed for only a few days, and whose duties did not include inspection of the equipment or care respecting its condition, held not chargeable as matter of law with assumption of risk on the ground of presumed knowledge of a defect in the condition of the equipment, there being no direct evidence that he knew of it.

Where the fact is in dispute as to whether a defect in a machine is such as to render its use dangerous, it cannot be properly held as matter of law that the risk is obvious even to one who knew of the defect.

An employee assumes the risk of dangers normally incident to the occupation in which he voluntarily engages, so far as they are not attributable to the employer's negligence; but the employee has a right to assume that his employer has exercised proper care with respect to providing safe appliances for the work, and is not to be treated as assuming the risk arising from a defect that is attributable to the employer's negligence until the employee becomes aware of such defect or unless it is so plainly observable that he may be presumed to have known of it.

In order to charge an employee with the assumption of a risk attributable to a defect due to the employer's negligence, it must appear not only that he knew (or is presumed to have known) of the defect, but that

Page 232 U. S. 95

he knew it endangered his safety, or else such danger must have been so obvious that an ordinarily prudent person under the circumstances would have appreciated it.

Questions of admissibility of evidence are for the determination of the trial court, whether its admission depends upon matter of law or of fact, and the finding upon such a question is not subject to reversal on appeal or error if fairly supported by the evidence, and so held as to the exclusion of evidence offered by defendant to prove remarks made by a third person in presence of the plaintiff before the injury as to defects in the appliance used by him.

The territorial appellate court having held that while, in case of an excessive verdict for unliquidated damages tainted with passion or prejudice, a new trial should be granted and the verdict not simply reduced, the trial judge is in the better position to judge if the verdict is merely excessive and should be allowed to stand if voluntarily reduced by the plaintiff to a reasonable amount, this Court sees no reason for disturbing that decision, there being no constitutional obstacle to the practice.

13 Ariz. 270 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a verdict and judgment for damages for personal injuries obtained in the territorial courts, are stated in the opinion.

Page 232 U. S. 97

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