New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company v. Henagan

PETITIONER: New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company
RESPONDENT: Henagan
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DOCKET NO.: 38
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 364 US 441 (1960)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1960
DECIDED: Nov 21, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company v. Henagan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1960 in New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company v. Henagan

Earl Warren:

Number 38, New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, Petitioner, versus Mary L. Donnelly Henagan.

Mr. Deering.

Noel W. Deering:

May it please the Court.

This was the case which rose under the Federal Employers' Liability Act and the facts are somewhat unusual.

The plaintiff below, the respondent in this Court, was a dining car waitress who was employed by the defendant, petitioner in this case, as -- on the -- on a dining car on the train which was en route from Boston to New York City.

And on the 11th day of October 1954, she sustained an injury when the train came to a sudden stop at the station of Providence, Rhode Island.

The circumstances of the stop with this; there was a lady by the name of Montell who had been on the station platform as the train was approaching the Baker Station stop at Providence and for some reason, apparently to commit suicide as all of the facts indicate and I think the respondent concedes, she stepped out in front of the train and the engineer in an effort to avoid running over her, an effort which is unsuccessful, brought the train to a sudden stop and this hostess in the dining car was thrown about, she was in the rear car of the train, an eight-car train, and received some injuries as a result of the sudden stop.

Now, the platform at the Providence Station is between two tracks of this particular platform.

The train was coming in on the left hand side.

The platform is somewhat on a curve, beginning at the east end of the station and the train comes around the -- from Boston into the Providence Station on this curve, part of the platform but not all of that is covered by (Inaudible).

There were some baggage trucks on the station platform at the time the accident happened.

The respondent attaches great deal of significance to the presence of the baggage trucks there as having some causal connection to the injury, although I think he doesn't claim that there was any negligence in having in there.

It was the merely part in preventing the engineer from seeing the woman on the track as soon as it was claimed he might have seen her.

The evidence indicates that as this engineer was coming along the track, he had reached the point he was going at a speed of some 13 to 15 miles an hour having slowed down to make the normal station stop which would have been some few 100 feet beyond the point where the accident happened.

And at that speed, he testified that his train would have come through a -- an ordinary stop without any ajar as such as occurred in this case.

His testimony was that when he was within about 40 feet of where the woman stepped off, he saw her stepping over the first rail of the rail nearest to the platform.

Potter Stewart:

Before you go on, I just I want to get one thing clear.

The testimony was bought as to how long a distance it would have taken to make an ordinary, none emergency stop.

Noel W. Deering:

I think the testimony was that in making an odd -- well, he had slowed down to make the ordinary emergency -- non-emergency stop.

Potter Stewart:

At the station (Voice Overlap) --

Noel W. Deering:

At that time, and it would have to take him about 500 or 600 feet as I recall.

Potter Stewart:

500 or 600 feet.

Noel W. Deering:

500 or 600 feet, I think the testimony was that he would have taken to make the regular stop that he intended to take there.

Actually, the stop which he made was within about 80 feet in emergency and his testimony and the testimony of several witnesses who were on the platform indicated that when the woman stepped off in front of the train, he was about a 100 -- he was about 40 feet although the respondent here argues that by certain testimony that the engineer gave in regard to the Providence baggage trucks on the platform, he must have been considerably farther away than that.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, where is that (Inaudible)

Noel W. Deering:

That --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

(Inaudible)

Noel W. Deering:

That is what I understand the plaintiff's theory is.

Yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

What about (Inaudible)