Monday, February 11, 2013

Moore v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co. case brief

Moore v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co. case brief summary 

340 U.S. 573

SYNOPSIS: Petitioner widow requested certiorari on a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the district court decision granted in favor of the respondent railroad to dismiss the widow's tort action on the merits after the district court denied her motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).

-The decedent brakeman perished when working for the railroad.
-The widow filed a lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act, as amended, 45 U.S.C.S. § 51 et seq., for the benefit of her children.
-The widow's complaint alleged that the railroad's engineer made a sudden and unexpected stop that caused the brakeman to be thrown into the pathway of an oncoming train.


-The jury returned a verdict for the widow.
-The court granted certiorari and affirmed the court of appeals judgment sustaining the district court decision granting the JNOV for the railroad.

The court held that the JNOV should be sustained because there was no evidence of negligence presented in the record.

RULES:It is the jury's function to credit or discredit all or part of the testimony. But disbelief of testimony would not supply a want of proof.

-The court found that the widow had the burden to prove that the brakeman fell after the train stopped without warning, but that her evidence indicated that he fell before the train stopped.
-The part of the engineer's testimony invoked by the widow did not allow an inference of negligence when compared to the uncontradicted and unequivocal testimony opposed to that inference.
-The jury verdict rested on speculation because supporting evidence was absent.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment upholding the district court decision to grant a JNOV for the railroad in the widow's negligence action.

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