Beutler v. Grand Trunk Junction Ry. Co.
Annotate this Case
224 U.S. 85 (1912)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Beutler v. Grand Trunk Junction Ry. Co., 224 U.S. 85 (1912)
Beutler v. Grand Trunk Junction Railway Company
Submitted March 6, 191
Decided March 18, 1912
224 U.S. 85
Courts may not abolish an established rule of law upon personal notions of what is expedient, and so as to the fellow servant doctrine, even if it be, as it has been called, a bad exception to a bad rule.
In cases tried in the United States courts, the court must follow its understanding of the common law when no settled rule of property intervenes.
The fellow servant rule applies where the character of their respective occupation brings the people engaged in them into necessary and frequent contact even if they have no personal relation.
An employee of a railroad company engaged in work in the repair yard is a fellow servant of the crew of a switching engine of the same company engaged in running cars needing repairs into the yard.
Although the question of fellow servant may be left to the jury in the state court, the question whether the facts do or do not constitute a ground of liability is one of law; this Court accordingly answers a question certified by the circuit court of appeals as to whether employee in this case were fellow servants.
If a law is bad, the legislature, and not juries, must change it.
The facts, which involve the determination of whether certain classes of employees of railroad companies are fellow servants, are stated in the opinion.