Spokane & Inland Empire R. Co. v. Campbell,
241 U.S. 497 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Spokane & Inland Empire R. Co. v. Campbell, 241 U.S. 497 (1916)

Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad Company v. Campbell

No. 325

Argued April 26, 1916

Decided June 12, 1916

241 U.S. 497


In an action under the Employers' Liability Act brought by an engineer of an interstate electric road for injuries resulting from a collision, the jury found a general verdict for plaintiff, and, in accordance with the practice of the state, made special findings that the violation by plaintiff of orders received before starting was the proximate cause of the collision, and that, immediately before the collision, the brakes on the train were insufficient to enable him to control the speed of the train. Held that:

On the record, the jury must have found that the defective air brakes were a proximate cause of the collision.

Under the Safety Appliance Act, if the equipment was defective or out of repair, the question of whether it was attributable to the company's negligence or not is immaterial.

An electric interstate road is not exempted from the requirements of the Safety Appliance Act because its terminals run over street railways. Spokane &c. v. United States, ante, p. 241 U. S. 344.

The fact that an employee may have violated an order does not take him from the protection of the Safety Appliance Act if, as an actual fact, the brakes were defective and such defectiveness was a proximate cause of the injury.

Proof that an employee violated an order is not proof that he did so willfully, and where willfulness is not found, such violation is only negligence, and not a departure from the course of employment.

The right of an employee of an interstate carrier by rail to recover for an injury depends upon the Acts of Congress, to which all state legislation affecting the subject matter yields.

Where the contributory negligence of the injured employee and the defendant's violation of the Safety Appliance Act are concurrent proximate causes, the Employers' Liability Act requires the former to be disregarded.

Quaere whether, under the conformity act (Rev.Stats. 914), the federal trial court is required to adhere to the state practice governing the effect of a general verdict and special findings.

17 F. 518 affirmed.

Page 241 U. S. 498

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the Employers' Liability Act and the Safety Appliance Act and the validity of a judgment for damages for personal injuries against a company operating an interstate electric railway, are stated in the opinion.

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