Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

RESPONDENT: Missouri Pacific Railroad Company
LOCATION: Congress


CITATION: 352 US 500 (1957)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1956
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1956 (Part 2) in Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1956 (Part 1) in Rogers v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

Earl Warren:

Number 28, Rogers versus Missouri Pacific Railroad.

Mark D. Eagleton:

May it please the Court.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Eagleton.

Mark D. Eagleton:

This is an action that was brought in the St. Louis Circuit Court for damages suffered on behalf of the petitioner, James C. Rogers, while in the employ of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company at Garner, Arkansas on July 17th, 1951.

It was brought under the terms and provisions of the Federal Employers' Liability Act on this -- in the pleadings.

Both parties conceded that the plaintiff and the defendant that lower courts level were subject to the provisions of that Act.

The plaintiff, the petitioner here, proceeded to trial on April 12th, 1954, and for three days following that, recovered a judgment by the Court and the jury in a sum of $40,000.

And after judgment have been entered, the defendant in that case, the respondent here, Missouri Pacific Railroad Company appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which reversed the judgment outright holding that the petitioner had not made a submissible case.

Thereafter, this Court granted certiorari, bringing us here because of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri was final as of that time.

We contend the petitioner that the ruling of the state court was wrong, not only because it was in the teeth of the decisions of this Court, but because it based its decision on facts that were not warranted inferences and facts not warranted either by the evidence, the submission of the case or the instructions granted by the Court.

The whole answer to the case will have to be found in the facts, and while they are somewhat extensive, they are simple in their very nature, and I will as quickly as I can, with the chronicle -- chronological order, attempt to give Your Honors a review of those facts.

In this particular case, the plaintiff, petitioner was 24 years of age at the time of his injury on July 17th, 1951.

He'd been employed by the Railroad Company some six or seven weeks prior to that particular injury.

At the time they were working at Garner, Arkansas on a roadbed and track that ran in general direction, north and south, the north bound track or the east track was for the north bound trains and the west track would be necessarily for the south bound trains.

There were only two tracks.

They cover the space when laid down on the ties and the ballast in between the ties are some 15 or 20 feet, which might be referred to as the roadbed.

The work the petitioner was doing was the burning of weeds along the western side of this north and south track.

These weeds have been prepared for burning previously by having then sprayed by chemical the purpose of which was indeed cause the weeds to dry and to be ready to immediate ignition when they're torched or some force of that kind was applied.

A particular torch that he was given to do this work was a rather improvised quart can of oil.

It had two spouts, one on either side coming out on a 45-degree angle in one of which spouts rags serving as a wick.

They were -- were placed and on the other spout of this 45-degree angle was inserted a stick or handle about three feet long.

The particular place of work which becomes important here was about 250 to 300 yards north of what is called the Garner Crossing.

And the work intended was to burn these weeds which for the most part were to the west of the petitioner as he would work from south to north.

In other words, he would be working on the west shoulder of this right of way.

The shoulder itself was defined as being a space beginning with the western edge of the ties and extending to the west about three to three and a half feet.

And if we look further to the west, we go down to his left as he goes north or to his west side as to what is called a dump, which is lower than the roadbed, which is up above it.

Now, the weeds were about two and a half to three feet in width to the west of his shoulder and extending in part down into the dump.

He would take this ignited torch and apply it to these specially prepared weeds for burning.

On this particular case on how he succeeded with that job and how he'd gone along without any difficulty, he would have gone up to the culvert which is in question here.

In that culvert, it was 253 yards north of the Garner Crossing where he started all of his work.