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NORTHERN PACIFIC R. CO. V. CHARLES, 162 U. S. 359 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Northern Pacific R. Co. v. Charles, 162 U.S. 359 (1896)

Northern Pacific Railroad Company v. Charles

No. 184

Argued March 26-27, 1896

Decided April 13, 1896

162 U.S. 359


The general principles of the law of master and servant, as set forth in the opinion in Northern Pacific Railroad v. Peterson, ante, 162 U. S. 346, are applicable to the facts in this case, and govern it.

The plaintiff below was a day laborer, in the employ of the Northern Pacific Railroad. With the rest of his gang he started on a handcar under a foreman to go over a part of a section to inspect the road. While running rapidly round a curve, they came in contact with a freight train, and he was seriously injured. The brake of the handcar was defective. The freight train gave no signals of its approach. He sued the company to recover damages for his injuries. Held:

(1) That the railroad company was not liable for negligence of its servants on the freight train to give signals of its approach, as such negligence, if it existed, was the negligence of a co-servant of the plaintiff.

(2) That any supposed negligence of the foreman in running the handcar at too high a rate of speed was negligence of a co-employee of the company, and not of their common employer.

(3) That if it should be assumed that the injury might have been avoided if the brake had not been defective, the jury should have been properly instructed on that point.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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