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UNION PACIFIC RY. CO. V. MCDONALD, 152 U. S. 262 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Union Pacific Ry. Co. v. McDonald, 152 U.S. 262 (1894)

Union Pacific Railway Company v. McDonald

No. 224

Argued January 23, 1894

Decided March b, 1894

152 U.S. 262


A railway company which operated a coal mine near one of its stations in Colorado was in the habit of depositing the slack on an open lot between the mine and the station in such quantities that the slack took fire and was in a permanent state of combustion. This fact had been well known for a long time to the employs and servants of the company, but no fence was erected about the open lot, and no efforts were made to warn people of the danger. A lad twelve years of age and his mother arrived by train at the station and descended there. Neither had any knowledge of the condition of the slack, which, on its surface, presented no sign of danger. Something having alarmed the boy, he ran towards the slack, fell on and into it, and was badly burned. Suit was brought to recover damages from the railway company for the injuries thus inflicted upon him.


(1) That the company was guilty of negligence in view of the statutory obligation to fence.

(2) That the lad was not a trespasser under the circumstances, and had not been guilty of contributory negligence.

(3) That the case was within the rule that the court may withdraw a case from the jury altogether and direct a verdict when the evidence is undisputed or is of such conclusive character that the court would be compelled to set aside a verdict returned in opposition to it.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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