FELTS v. SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD CO.
409 U.S. 926

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U.S. Supreme Court

FELTS v. SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD CO. , 409 U.S. 926 (1972)

409 U.S. 926

Ryland S. FELTS
v.
SEABOARD COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY.
No. 71-1582.

Ray Leonard ADKINS
v.
KELLY'S CREEK RAILROAD COMPANY.
No. 72-163.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 16, 1972

On petitions for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The petitions for writs of certiorari are denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

These cases present recurring problems under the Federal Employees Liability Act. 45 U.S.C. 56.

Page 409 U.S. 926 , 927

In No. 72-163, Adkins, an employee, lost a part of his left leg while attempting to repair a broken rail. Kelly's Creek was a carrier by rail wholly owned by Warners Collieries Company, a mining company. The jury returned a verdict for Adkins in the amount of $117,568.44. The District Court granted a defense motion for judgment n. o. v.; and the Court of Appeals affirmed. 458 F.2d 26.

In No. 71-1582, Felts was a Pullman conductor who reported for work on the Seaboard Silver Comet Train out of Richmond, Virginia. He was injured while trying to open the trap door which would allow passengers to leave or to board the car. The jury returned a verdict for Felts which the District Court set aside; and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

These two cases are classic examples of the type of cases memorialized in our many FELA controversies-a page in our history highlighted by Rogers v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., 352 U.S. 500, where we said:

    'Under this statute the test of a jury case is simply whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought. It does not matter that, from the evidence, the jury may also with reason, on grounds of probability, attribute the result of other causes, including the employee's contributory negligence. Judicial appraisal of the proofs to determine whether a jury question is presented is narrowly limited to the single inquiry whether, with reason, the conclusion may be drawn that negligence of the employer played any part at all in the injury or death. Judges are to fix their sights primarily to make that appraisal and, if that test is met, are bound to find that a case for the jury is made out whether or not the evidence allows the jury a choice of other probabilities. The statute [409 U.S. 926 , 928]


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