Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Scarlett
300 U.S. 471 (1937)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Scarlett, 300 U.S. 471 (1937)

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. Scarlett

No. 505

Argued March 3, 1937

Decided March 29, 1937

300 U.S. 471

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

Syllabus

1. A regulation prescribed by the Interstate Commerce Commission in pursuance of constitutional statutory authority has the same force as though prescribed in terms by the statute. P. 300 U. S. 474.

2. In an action under the Federal Safety Appliance Act against a railroad company to recover damages for personal injuries resulting from an alleged violation of the Act, the judgment of the trial court and jury cannot be substituted for that of the Interstate Commerce Commission on the question as to what constitutes compliance with its regulations. P. 300 U. S. 474.

3. The Federal Safety Appliance Act provides that cars requiring "secure" ladders shall be so equipped. An order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, issued pursuant to the Act, requires such ladders to have a minimum clearance of treads of "two, preferably two and one-half inches."

Held:

(1) A side ladder of a freight car complied with the Act though between it and the side of the car was a diagonal brace rod which the ladder cleared by two and three-quarter inches. P. 300 U. S. 474.

(2) The brace rod was not a part of the ladder. P. 300 U. S. 474.

(3) Long-continued use of brace rods of the type here involved, in the same relation to the ladder, without change of its order by the Interstate Commerce Commission, is persuasive that the Act and the order were not violated. P. 300 U. S. 474.

(4) The right of recovery, if any, in this case must be governed not by the Safety Appliance Act, but by the common law rule of negligence. P. 300 U. S. 475.

7 Cal. 2d 181; 60 P.2d 462, reversed.

Certiorari, 299 U.S. 537, to review a judgment affirming a judgment against the railroad company in an action under the Federal Safety Appliance Act.

Page 300 U. S. 472

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action under the Federal Safety Appliance Act (Act of April 14, 1910, c. 160, §§ 2 and 3) (36 Stat. 298 *), brought by Scarlett against the railway company to recover damages for a personal injury resulting from an alleged violation of the act. It also was generally alleged that the injury was due to the negligence of the railway company. Scarlett was employed as a brakeman. While descending from a box car by means of a ladder attached to the side of the car, his foot slipped on a round brace rod, also attached to the side of the car immediately behind the ladder, and he fell to the ground, thereby sustaining the injury for which damages were sought.

The ladder itself was not defective. In its structure, it complied with the regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission made in pursuance of the act. "United States Safety appliance Standards" -- order of March 13, 1911. It is unnecessary to set forth these regulations. The only one important here prescribes -- "Minimum clearance of treads, [shall be] two (2), preferably two

Page 300 U. S. 473

and one-half (2 1/2), inches." The round brace rods with which the car was equipped extended outward from the wall of the car a distance of more than an inch. These brace rods operated to strengthen the walls of the car. That was their only purpose, and there is no doubt as to their necessity for that purpose. The brace rod in question ran down the side of the car at an angle of about 45

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