Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Proffitt,
241 U.S. 462 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Proffitt, 241 U.S. 462 (1916)

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company v. Proffitt

No. 273

Argued March 10, 1916

Decided June 5, 1916

241 U.S. 462


The danger to a brakeman at work in switching at one end of a "manifest" train, arising from switching operations conducted by another crew at the other end is not among the ordinary risks of a brakeman's employment; and, in the absence of notice or knowledge, such brakeman cannot be held to have assumed it.

To subject an employee without warning to unusual danger, not normally incident to the employment, is itself an act of negligence.

While an employee assumes risks and dangers ordinarily incident to the employment, so far as they are not attributable to the negligence of the employer or those for whom the latter is responsible, the employee has a right to assume that the employer has exercised proper care to provide a safe place and method of, work.

An employee is not to be regarded as having assumed a risk attributable to the employer's negligence until he becomes aware of it, unless it is so plainly observable that he must be presumed to have knowledge of it.

An employee is not obliged to exercise care to discover dangers resulting from the employer's negligence and which are not ordinarily incident to the employment.

Even if an employee knows and assumes the risk of an inherently dangerous method of work, he does not assume the increased risk attributable not to such method, but to negligence in pursuing it.

In the absence of knowledge of a custom of the employer in making up trains, a brakeman is not bound by such a custom unless it is one that a reasonably careful employer would adopt.

A request to charge that the jury find for defendant if the usual method of doing work was pursued irrespective of the question of negligence of other employees was, in this case, properly modified by the court to the effect that the method adopted must be one that reasonably prudent men would adopt and that the injured employee only assumed the risks reasonably and usually incident to such method.

218 F. 23 affirmed.

Page 241 U. S. 463

The facts, which involve the validity of a judgment for damages for personal injuries in an action under the Employers' Liability Act, are stated in the opinion.

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