Erie R. Co. v. Purucker - 244 U.S. 320 (1917)
U.S. Supreme Court
Erie R. Co. v. Purucker, 244 U.S. 320 (1917)
Erie R. Co. v. Purucker
Argued April 23, 1917
Decided June 4, 1917
244 U.S. 320
A request to charge must be calculated to give the jury an accurate understanding of the law with reference to the phase of the case to which it is applicable.
Plaintiff, employed to work upon the tracks of a railroad company, while walking east on the east-bound track to a place of work appointed by his superior, stepped over to the west-bound track to avoid an east-bound train and was run down by an engine backing, without warning signals, on the west-bound track, and was injured. There was evidence that he did not see the engine because of steam and smoke from the avoided train, and that those in charge of the backing engine did not see him. Held:
(1) That a request to charge that, if plaintiff was using the tracks voluntarily for his convenience, he assumed the risk, was too broad, in ignoring the circumstances which induced him to use them and in taking for granted his knowledge of the conditions, especially the possibility of negligence in backing the engine without warning.
(2) That a request to charge that, if plaintiff, in getting off the track on which he saw the train approaching, could with safety and reasonable convenience have stepped to the right or south of such track, and by his own choice stepped on the other track and was struck by a train thereon, he assumed the risk of such choice was open to the same objections in not covering the elements of assumed risk, and was more properly applicable to the defense of contributory negligence.
Under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, an employee does not assume a risk attributable to the negligence of his co-employees until he is aware of it, unless the risk is so obvious that an ordinarily prudent person in his situation would observe and appreciate it.
The case is stated in the opinion.