Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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

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

-Alderman (Plaintiff) was traveling the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (Defendant) using a free pass when he was injured due to a train derailment.
-Alderman’s pass stated that B&O Railroad was free from all liability arising from injury to passengers who did not pay a fare.
-Alderman sued B&O for wanton or willful conduct.
-B&O moved for summary judgment under Rule 56.
-The defect which caused the track to break would not have been visible upon an inspection.

Issue: Is summary judgment in favor of the defendant appropriate where the plaintiff cannot meet his burden of proof?

Yes. Summary judgement in favor of the defendant is appropriate where the plaintiff can not plead his burden of proof.
-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.

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.


-The court stated that such a release protects a railroad against ordinary negligence, but a railroad is always liable for wanton or willful acts.
-In order that one may be held liable for willful or wanton conduct, it must be shown that he was conscious of his conduct, and conscious, from his knowledge of existing conditions, that injury would likely or probably result from his conduct, and that with reckless indifference to consequences he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the injurious result.

Motion for summary judgment granted.

In this case, plaintiff must show that defendant was aware of the defect in order to prevail and the plaintiff had no evidence. If there is any dispute about the material facts of a case, a motion for 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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