U.S. Supreme Court
Deserant v. Cerillos Coal R. Co., 178 U.S. 409 (1900)
Deserant v. Cerillos Coal Railroad Company
Argued April 27, 1900
Decided May 28, 1900
178 U.S. 409
The Act of Congress of March 3, 1891, concerning coal mines, makes three requirements: (1) ventilation of not less than fifty-five feet of pure air per second, or 3300 cubic feet per minute for every fifty men at work, and in like proportions fur a greater number; (2) proper appliances and machinery to force the air through the mine to the face of working places; (3) keeping all workings free from standing gas, and if either of these three requirements was neglected, to the injury of the plaintiff's intestates, the defendant was liable.
The act does not give to mine owners the privilege of reasoning on the sufficiency of appliances for ventilation, or leave to their judgment the amount of ventilation that is sufficient for the protection of miners.
It does not allow standing gas, but requires the mine to be kept clear of it, and if this is not done, the consequence of neglecting it cannot be excused because some workman may disregard instructions.
It is the master's duty to furnish safe appliances and safe working places, and if the neglect of this duty concurs with that of the negligence of a fellow-servant, the master is liable.
On the issues made, and on the evidence, and regarding the provisions of the act of Congress, the instructions given by the trial court to the jury were erroneous.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.