Affolder v. New York, Chicago & St.L. R. Co.
339 U.S. 96 (1950)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Affolder v. New York, Chicago & St.L. R. Co., 339 U.S. 96 (1950)

Affolder v. New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Co.

No. 200

Argued November 18, 1949

Decided March 13, 1950

339 U.S. 96

Syllabus

In this action again.st a railroad under the Safety Appliance Act and the Federal Employers' Liability Act, based on an alleged violation of the automatic coupler requirement of the Safety Appliance Act, it appeared from the evidence that the plaintiff, a switchman, lost a leg in his attempt to stop a string of moving cars which had separated from others after an earlier failure of two of them to couple on impact. The verdict of the jury and the judgment of the trial court were for the plaintiff.

Held:

1. The issue of proximate cause was properly determined in favor of the plaintiff. Carter v. Atlanta & St. A. B. R. Co.,338 U. S. 430. P. 339 U. S. 98.

2. The duty of the carrier under the automatic coupler requirement of the Safety Appliance Act is unrelated to negligence, but is an absolute one requiring proper performance of the couplers on the occasion in question. O'Donnell v. Elgin, J. & E. R. Co.,338 U. S. 384. P. 339 U. S. 98.

3. The charge of the trial court in this case sufficiently informed the jury as to the relevant legal rules. It did not deprive the railroad of a defense based on the possibility that the separation of the cars was due to the plaintiff's failure to open the coupler. Pp. 339 U. S. 98-100.

4. In the circumstances of this case, the amount of damages ($80,000) awarded by the trial court's judgment was not excessive. P. 339 U. S. 101.

174 F.2d 486 reversed.

In an action under the Safety Appliance Act and the Federal Employers' Liability Act, the District Court entered judgment for the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed. 174 F.2d 486. This Court granted certiorari. 338 U.S. 813. Reversed, p. 339 U. S. 101.

Page 339 U. S. 97

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