Inman v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company

PETITIONER: Inman
RESPONDENT: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company
LOCATION: Dry Docks at Reed, WV

DOCKET NO.: 36
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 361 US 138 (1959)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1959
DECIDED: Dec 14, 1959

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Inman v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1959 in Inman v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company

Earl Warren:

Number 36, Carl C.Inman, Petitioner, versus Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Mr. McGowan.

Raymond J. McGowan:

Members of the Supreme Court, this is a negligence case under the Federal Employers' Liability Act and the action was tried in Summit County town police court.

A verdict was rendered for the plaintiff.

A general verdict was rendered for the plaintiff and in addition to the general verdict, there were two interrogatories submitted by the railroad and the first was, “Do you find the defendant was negligent?”

The answer by the jury to that special interrogatory was, “Yes, in part.”

And the second interrogatory was, “In what -- if your answer to interrogatory number one is in the affirmative, then in what respect do you find the railroad was negligent?”

And the answer was, “In failing to provide enough protection.”

The Court rendered a judgment on the verdict, the town police court did and the railroad appealed to the Court of Appeals and the Court of Appeals reversed and rendered a final judgment, took the judgment away from the petitioner, rendered the final judgment in favor of the railroad.

This accident occurred at a railroad crossing.

The plaintiff was a crossing watch and he was in the performance of his duty when he was struck by an automobile at the crossing while the train was passing over the crossing.

It -- it was the most unusual crossing in that Tallmadge Avenue is a main highway on Akron, extending in an easterly and westerly direction and Home Avenue is -- is a highway extending in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction.

They intersect one another and the railroad tracks of the defendant or the respondent, three of them, intersect both highways right in the middle of the intersection.

So that we -- we have a situation there where Home Avenue intersects Tallmadge Avenue, west of the tracks and it also intersects Tallmadge Avenue, east of the tracks.

There are actually two intersections there, thus providing a cutoff for automobiles that are proceeding in a northerly direction on Home Avenue into -- into Tallmadge Avenue.

On this particular night, there was a train, a train that was travelling in an easterly direction north geographically and it was the watchman's duty to take his position on the westerly side of the railroad track and face the train for the purpose of watching for another train which was due out of Ravenna, Ohio and which had left Ravenna, Ohio by 15 minutes before that time, and in order to not clear the crossing before this other train arrived in the event it did arrive before the train which is on the crossing passed.

While he was standing there facing the train, the train that was passing was -- the caboose was going over the crossing and he took a step backward and went to turn, when he was struck by an automobile, which was being driven in a northerly direction on Home Avenue and the -- the driver was making a left hand turn on this cutoff which is located west of the railroad tracks, struck the watchman, a 67-year old man and seriously injured him.

And he -- we sued the railroad -- the railroad was sued.

The driver sped on.

He was a hips -- hit-skip driver.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Mr. McGowan.

Raymond J. McGowan:

Yes, Your Honor.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Is there a passenger by --

Raymond J. McGowan:

Yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

(Inaudible)

Raymond J. McGowan:

Your Honor, if you'll turn to page, in our record, page 234 Joint Exhibit A.

Now, the watchman, you'll see is Tallmadge Avenue there and right where the letter G is on the Tallmadge is where the watchman was facing to the -- to the east.

And Home Avenue, this automobile, down at the bottom, you'll see Home Avenue there, he was making a left hand turn into Tallmadge Avenue when he struck the watchman.

Now, if you'll notice Home Avenue intersects, there's an intersection west of the tracks and there's an intersection east of the track.

Now, what actually happened that night, this train was going in a northerly direction.