Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. v. Holbrook - 235 U.S. 625 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. v. Holbrook, 235 U.S. 625 (1915)
Norfolk & Western Railway Company v. Holbrook
Argued December 1, 2, 1914
Decided January 5, 1915
235 U.S. 625
Under the Employers' Liability Act, where death is instantaneous, the beneficiaries can recover their pecuniary loss and nothing more; but the relationship between them and the deceased is a proper circumstance for consideration in computing the same. In every instance, however, the award must be based on money values, the amount of which can be ascertained only upon a view of the peculiar facts presented.
While it is proper for the trial court to instruct the jury to take into consideration the care, attention, instruction, guidance and advice which a father may give his children and to include the pecuniary value thereof in the damages assessed, it is not proper to give the jury occasion for indefinite speculation by comparing the rights of the actual beneficiaries with those of the supposed dependents who are mere next of kin.
Where the facts are adequate to constitute a strong appeal to the sympathy of the jury, the charge should be free from anything which the jury can construe into a permission to go outside of the evidence.
It is the duty of the court in its relation to the jury to protect the parties from unjust verdicts arising from impulse, passion, or prejudice or any other violation of lawful rights. Pleasants v. Fant, 22 Wall. 116.
215 F. 67 reversed.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908, are stated in the opinion.