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CHESAPEAKE & OHIO RY. CO. V. HOWARD, 178 U. S. 153 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Howard, 178 U.S. 153 (1900)

Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company v. Howard

No. 247

Argued Ap 17-18, 1900

Decided May 21, 1900

178 U.S. 153


The wife of the defendant in error, while traveling from Louisville to Washington on a through ticket in a car of the plaintiff in error and on a train conducted by his agents, was run off the track and down a bank in consequence of the weakness of a wheel which might have been known, and suffered a serious and lasting injury, for which an action was brought to recover compensation. The defense set up that, at the time the accident happened, the train was managed by a Connecticut company to whom the road had been leased. Held that that fact would not bar a recovery; that, if, notwithstanding the execution of the lease, the plaintiff in error, through its agents and servants, managed and conducted and controlled the train to which the accident happened, it would be responsible for that accident.

The railroad company seeks by this writ of error to reverse a judgment obtained against it at a trial term of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia in favor of defendants in error, which judgment has been affirmed by the Court of Appeals of the District.

The defendants in error are husband and wife, and the action was brought by them to recover damages alleged to have been sustained by the wife because the car in which she was riding ran off the track while forming part of a train in transit from Louisville, Kentucky, to the City of Washington, D.C. The accident occurred during the night of November 16, 1886, at a place called Soldier, in the State of Kentucky, and about 60 miles west of the east line of the state, and while the train was running on the rails of the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad Company, which was a Kentucky corporation.

The amended declaration of the plaintiffs below alleged that the train on which the wife was a passenger was operated and conducted by the agents of the plaintiff in error, and that the plaintiff in error was managing and operating a line of railway chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 178 U. S. 154

between the Cities of Louisville, in the State of Kentucky, and Washington City, in the District of Columbia, and upon said line of railway it was a common carrier of passengers for hire; that, on the 18th of November, 1886, the plaintiff, Laura P. Howard, purchased from the agents of the defendant at the City of Louisville a ticket entitling her to a passage upon the railway from the City of Louisville to the City of Washington, and the defendant, it was alleged, thereupon became bound to safely carry and transport her from the City of Louisville to the City of Washington, but the defendant did not carry or transport her safely, and that, near the Town of Soldier, in the State of Kentucky, by the unskillfulness, carelessness, and wrongful neglect and mismanagement of defendants' agents in charge of said train, the sleeping car in which she was riding left the track and went down an embankment and was demolished, and she was badly wounded and injured, and that, by reason of these injuries, she suffered great pain, and has been rendered permanently unable to do any business.

The defendant took issue upon these allegations, and the case went to trial. It has been twice tried, and upon the first trial, when all the evidence was in, the court directed a verdict for the defendant on the ground that no liability on its part had been shown for the accident in question. Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals of the District, that court reversed the judgment, 11 App.D.C. 300, and granted a new trial. A retrial was had, and the jury found a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, upon which judgment was entered, and on appeal it has been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 14 App.D.C. 262.

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