Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Alderman v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. case brief

Alderman v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co.
113 F. Supp. 881 (S. Dist. W.Va. 1953).

-Plaintiff was injured while riding on D’s train when the railroad cars derailed. 
-P was traveling on a free transportation pass, on which was printed that the passenger assumed the risk of all personal injury and relieved the railroad of all liability. 
-P sued D for negligence in the maintenance of its tracks, later amending the complaint to charge the D with willful and wanton conduct. 
-D moved for summary judgment, contending that  P could not prove that D’s conduct was willful or wanton.
Is summary judgment in favor of the defendant appropriate where the plaintiff cannot meet his burden of proof?
-Yes. Summary judgment is proper when there are clear and undisputed facts, and when the other party’s complaint or defense fails to establish a legal premise upon which relief could be granted.
-Motion for summary judgment granted.
  • Summary judgment is appropriate when the P fails to demonstrate sufficient factual support of her claims.
  • Motion to Dismiss (Demurrer) may be granted following the initial pleading, where a claim fails to state sufficient grounds for relief even if all of the factual allegations are presumed to be true.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment typically granted following the discovery process.  If discovery fails to reveal any genuine issues of material fact in dispute, then [Rule 56] allows the court to enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of the moving party.


-Plaintiff’s complaint failed to state facts sufficient to demonstrate that the railroad acted willfully.  Therefore, Alderman will be unable to prove that the railroad acted willfully and wantonly.
-The court held that the affidavits of D showed that P could not establish this part of his case. To prevail, P must show that D knew of the defect in the rail, knew that the defect would break if a train went over it, and was recklessly indifferent to the consequences. This type of defect was not discoverable by visual examination.  D did make a visual examination the day before the accident. P had no evidence to prove his case.
-In this case, P must show that D was aware of the defect in order to prevail and P had no evidence. If there is any dispute about the material facts of a case, a summary judgment cannot be granted.
- A judge must construe all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.

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