Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company v. Jackson

PETITIONER: Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company
LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 325 (1957)
ARGUED: Mar 28, 1957 / Apr 01, 1957
DECIDED: May 13, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company v. Jackson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 28, 1957 in Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company v. Jackson

Earl Warren:

Number 370, Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company, versus Daniel T. Jackson.

Mr. Ailes, is that the way you pronounce your --

Stephen Ailes:

Yes, sir, it is.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Ailes, you may proceed.

Stephen Ailes:

May it please the Court.

This is a Federal Employers' Liability Act case here on certiorari from the District of Columbia Circuit.

The issue in the case is a question of whether or not the Safety Appliance Act applies to maintenance-of-way vehicles used on the railroads such as the two which are pictured with our brief, motor track car and a push truck which appear on last two pages of our brief.

Specifically, the issue is the question of whether or not these vehicles constituting a train when hits together or whether the motor track car on which the workmen are riding constitutes a locomotive engine as those terms are used in the Safety Appliance Act.

A question is also involved whether or not the push truck which appears on the second page is a locomotive, tender, car, or a similar vehicle as that -- as those terms are used in Section 8 of the Safety Appliance Act, so as to require an efficient handbrake under Section 11.

This was a personal injury case of course in the lower court.

The respondent had been driving a vehicle of this character with two other or three other workmen on it, pulling a push truck returning from a place out near Washington Grove in Maryland where they had been working on a specific day.

As they came through a station, a dog ran in front of the motor-car.

A break was applied.

The car skidded in and hit the dog and overturned and the respondent was injured.

Now, negligence was alleged, first on the common law of ground that the railroad should not have permitted the respondent to be out on a rainy day pulling a push truck with no more brakes than the brakes which were on the motor track car.

But a second ground was alleged to wit that the Safety Appliance Act had been violated because of the fact that there was no handbrake on the push truck, that four-wheel flat car that they were towing, and because of the second fact that no train brake was provided by which the section foreman when he drove the motor track car could apply brakes on the car which he was towing.


Stephen Ailes:

Yes, sir.

Under the Act, they do.

Now, the lower court instructed the jury.

Now, the other ground of recovery is based upon an Act of Congress known as the Safety Appliance Act.

Congress has required railroads to furnish certain equipment for use of the operation of the railroad.

Among those that are necessary as in this particular case was that the law required the railroad to have handbrakes on this truck and to have brakes on the motor-car controlling the brakes on both the truck and the motor-car.

The evidence clearly showed and it is admitted -- it is admitted that this equipment was not furnished.

And you will find therefore that if by reason of the failure to apprise that equipment, this accident happened then that was the -- that that was the proximate cause or contributing cause of the accident, then the railroad of course is liable to the plaintiff and no negligence on the part of the plaintiff himself as to bar to his right of recovery.

Now, a verdict followed for the plaintiff.

The case of course, this instruction went in over the objection of the -- of petitioner here, motions for a new trial on the ground of the Safety Appliance Act should have been excluded from the case were denied.

The case was reviewed on appeal by the Court of Appeals here in the District of Columbia and the lower court was affirmed.

We sought certiorari here because for 64 years, since the passage of the Safety Appliance Act, the railroads and the Interstate Commerce Commission have taken it absolutely for granted that the Safety Appliance Act does not apply to the small maintenance-of-way vehicles which railroads used to haul workmen and tools to and from stations to the place of work along the line.

We sought certiorari because 60,000 or more of these motor track cars were in use today and a countless number of push trucks are in use today, none of which are equipped with power brakes which Section 1 of the Safety Appliance Act requires for train brakes meeting a system by which the lead or power driven car can apply brakes on the other vehicles with automatic couplers which the Safety Appliance Act also requires with grab irons and handholds and draw-bars, 31 inches from the ground with sill steps or with handbrakes on the push truck, all of which would be required as the Safety Appliance Act applies.