Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Goodman,
275 U.S. 66 (1927)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Goodman, 275 U.S. 66 (1927)

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Goodman

No. 58

Argued October 20, 1927

Decided October 31, 1927

275 U.S. 66


1. One who drives upon a railroad track relying upon not having heard a train or any signal and taking no further precaution does so at his own risk. If he cannot otherwise be sure whether a train is dangerously near, the driver must stop and get out of his vehicle before attempting to cross. P. 275 U. S. 69.

2. In an action for negligence, the question of due care is not left to the jury when resolved by a clear standard of conduct which should be laid down by the courts. P. 275 U. S. 70.

10 F.2d 58 reversed.

Certiorari, 271 U.S. 658, to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals sustaining a recovery for death caused by alleged negligence of the railroad in an action by the widow and administratrix of the deceased. The action was removed from an Ohio state court on the ground of diversity of citizenship.

Page 275 U. S. 69

Primary Holding

While the jury usually decides what reasonable care would be, courts can make that decision when the standard is clear.


Goodman reduced speed to 10 mph as he was driving his truck toward a blind railroad crossing that lacked signals and guard rails. When he did see the train, he was unable to stop and was struck and killed. Goodman's family brought a wrongful death claim against Baltimore & Ohio R.R., which responded that he had died as a result of his own negligence. However, the jury did not direct a verdict for the railroad, and the jury eventually found for Goodman's family.



  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Author)
  • William Howard Taft
  • Willis Van Devanter
  • James Clark McReynolds
  • Louis Dembitz Brandeis
  • Pierce Butler
  • Edward Terry Sanford
  • Harlan Fiske Stone

When the evidence shows that an accident victim did not take the reasonable precautions to protect himself from a known risk, a directed verdict is proper. In this situation, Goodman knew that he needed to yield to the train and that the area was potentially dangerous. He could have been expected to completely stop his vehicle and get out if needed to determine whether a train was approaching. Failing to stop in this type of situation was a clear example of negligence and the proximate cause of his death.


  • George Sutherland (Author)

Case Commentary

It was obvious in this case that a reasonable person should have checked for a train in the area around the tracks, so this issue could be decided by the court and did not need to be submitted to the jury.

Disclaimer: Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Contacting Justia or any attorney through this site, via web form, email, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.