Deen v. Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Co.

RESPONDENT: Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company
LOCATION: Quality Photo Shop

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 353 US 925 (1957)
ARGUED: Apr 01, 1957
DECIDED: Apr 08, 1957

Facts of the case

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Media for Deen v. Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 01, 1957 in Deen v. Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Earl Warren:

Number 199, Earl R. Deen versus Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company.

Robert Lee Guthrie:

May it please the Court.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Guthrie.

Robert Lee Guthrie:

This is a case that arises under the Federal Employers' Liability Act.

It involves a workman that was injured in the course of his employment while working for the Santa Fe Railway Company at Brownwood, Texas.

The injury was sustained on July the 12th, 1949.

On that day, a locomotive was in the shops of the company for repair.

The clerk of the general foreman told Deen, who was the coppersmith for the railway company, that we must have this locomotive out of the shops today.

Now, to repair the locomotive, it was necessary to use babbitt which is an alloy of antimony, copper, and tin.

The babbitt that was available was in a steel pot that leaked so badly that it put out the fire which burned underneath the pot in the furnace.

Now, on that very day, the railway company was planning to replace the pot with a new one.

And the foreman told Deen that if he had that old pot off of the furnace and have the furnace ready to be replaced with a new pot, that he could use the men that brought the new pot to lift it upon the furnace and also to place the babbitt in the new pot for melting.

Earl Warren:

Place the babbitt where?

Robert Lee Guthrie:

In the new pot for melting, in the new -- new steel pot.

Earl Warren:


Robert Lee Guthrie:

Now, Your Honors, the steel pot weighed about 250 pounds.

And the babbitt that was in the pot weighed some 550 or 600 pounds as I remembered.

The steel pot and the babbitt together weighed almost a half a ton.

Now, right beside the steel pot was a hoist that it then furnished by the railway company for the purpose of lifting heavy object.

Now, this steel pot fitted so snugly in the furnace that it was necessary for Deen to take a crow bar and pries it off to the furnace, a distance about half an -- inch-and-a-half, so that it could be gripped by the arms of the hoist and lift it from the furnace onto the floor.

He revolved the hoist around, fitted the arms of it under the -- under the rim of the steel pot which was a inch-and-a-half to two inches wide, then he tried to take the pot from the furnace to the floor and in the course of the transfer, the steel pot fell to the floor.

And Your Honors, he then tried to overturn the steel pot with the babbitt in it by himself, but he was unable to do so.

A fellow workman and a blacksmith in the shop saw the difficulty that he was in and they voluntarily came to his assistant, then both tried to overturn the steel pot to empty out the babbitt but they were unable to do so.

And then both of them went around to the front of the pot, one braced himself against the furnace, that was Deen, Snow braced himself against the steel bent that was there and they pulled the steel pot towards it.

Just as it reached an upright position, the babbitt slab out of the pot, caught Deen's right leg, mangled him and crippled him for life.

And the case was tried before a jury in the state court at Brownwood, Texas.

The case was submitted to the jury in accordance with Texas process on special issues.

Now, the jury in response to those special issues made the following findings, that the railway company did not furnish Deen proper tools to do his job, that this failure was negligent and that it was approximate cause of Deen's injury.

The jury also found that the railway company did not fail to give Deen proper supervision.

They found that the railway company did not fail to furnish him sufficient help to do the work.