WILKERSON V. MCCARTHY, 336 U. S. 53 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wilkerson v. McCarthy, 336 U.S. 53 (1949)

Wilkerson v. McCarthy

No. 53

Argued December 6, 1948

Decided January 31, 1949

336 U.S. 53


1. In this action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, there was evidence (detailed in the opinion) which would support a jury finding of negligence on the part of the defendants, and it was error for the trial court to direct a verdict against the plaintiff. Pp. 336 U. S. 54-61, 336 U. S. 63-64.

2. In determining whether there is sufficient evidence to submit an issue of negligence to the jury, it is necessary to look only to the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom which tend to support the case of the litigant against whom a peremptory instruction has been given. P. 336 U. S. 57.

3. Under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, contributory negligence of the plaintiff does not bar recovery for an injury which was "in part" the result of the defendant's negligence, but the damages in such case "shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable" to the plaintiff. P. 336 U. S. 61.

4. The Federal Employers' Liability Act does not make the railroad an absolute insurer of the safety of its employees, but imposes liability only for negligence. P. 336 U. S. 61.

5. The issue of negligence under the Act is to be determined by the jury according to whether an employer's conduct measures up to what a reasonable and prudent person would have done under the same circumstances. P. 336 U. S. 61.

6. The employer is liable for injuries attributable to conditions under his control when they are not such as a reasonable man ought to maintain in the circumstances, having in mind that the standard of care must be commensurate to the dangers of the business. P. 336 U. S. 61.

7. The assumption that, where the issue of negligence under the Act is left to the jury, railroads practically are made insurers of the safety of their employees is inadmissible, since courts should not assume that, in determining these questions of negligence, juries will fall short of a fair performance of their constitutional function. Pp. 336 U. S. 61-63.

___ Utah ___, 187 P.2d 188, reversed. chanrobles.com-red

Page 336 U. S. 54

In an action brought by petitioner under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, to recover damages for personal injuries, the trial court directed a verdict for the defendants. The State Supreme Court affirmed. ___ Utah ___, 187 P.2d 188. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 807. Reversed, p. 336 U. S. 64.