Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Donaldson,
246 U.S. 121 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Donaldson, 246 U.S. 121 (1918)

Great Northern Railway Company v. Donaldson

No. 172

Argued January 31, 1918

Decided March 4, 1918

246 U.S. 121


Where the state trial and supreme courts have successively found sufficient evidence of negligence to sustain a verdict for plaintiff in an action under the Employers' Liability Act, it is not the province of this Court to weigh the conflicting evidence on the subject; it will go no farther than to ascertain that there is evidence supporting the verdict.

The Federal Boiler Inspection Act, c. 103, 36 Stat. 913, is a "statute enacted for the safety of employees," within the meaning of § 4 of the Federal Employers' Liability Act, which latter eliminates assumption of risk in cases where the violation of such a statute contributes to the injury or death of the employee.

Where there was evidence tending to prove that a locomotive boiler which exploded was unsafe in that the button-heads on the bolts of the crown-sheet over the fire-box were unnecessarily large, and subject to deterioration from overheating when oil was used for fuel, and in that the boiler was not provided with fusible safety plugs and had an accumulation of scale, held that a request for an instruction stating that no safety statute was applicable and submitting the question of assumed risk was inconsistent with § 4 of the Employers' Liability Act and § 2 of the Boiler Inspection Act.

The court instructed to the effect that, if the jury believed from a fair preponderance of the evidence that the boiler was not in the proper condition, etc., defined by § 2 of the Boiler Inspection Act, due to the defendant's negligence in any of the respects above mentioned, there would be no assumption of risk, but that, if it was in such condition, but, due to defendant's negligence, was defective in any of such respects, and the employee had actual knowledge of such defects or they were so plainly visible that, in the reasonable exercise of his faculties, he should and might be presumed to have known them, then he assumed the risk. Held more favorable to the defendant than the law required.

Page 246 U. S. 122

Testimony held not to show an approval by federal boiler inspectors of the use of the large type of button-head on an oil-burning engine.

When a feature of construction renders a boiler unsafe within the definition of § 2 of the Boiler Inspection Act, the fact that it has not been disapproved by a federal inspector doe not absolve the carrier from liability.

89 Wash. 161 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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