Monday, November 11, 2013

Wagner v. International Ry. case brief

Wagner v. International Ry. case brief summary
133 N.E. 437 (N.Y. 1921)

Plaintiff passenger appealed a judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Fourth Judicial Department (New York) overruling plaintiff's exceptions, denying a motion for a new trial, and directing judgment for defendant railroad in plaintiff's action for personal injuries arising out of defendant's negligence toward a third-party.


Plaintiff and his cousin were riding defendant's electric railway when plaintiff's cousin was thrown from the train through an open door. The accident occurred as the train rounded a curve on a bridge. According to disputed testimony, when the train stopped, plaintiff, followed by the conductor, walked the bridge in an attempt to locate plaintiff's cousin. Other passengers went beneath the bridge in an attempt to locate the body. While they stood there, plaintiff's body struck the ground. Plaintiff brought suit for personal injuries he sustained. The trial judge held that negligence toward plaintiff's cousin would not charge defendant with liability for injuries plaintiff suffered. Plaintiff appealed.


  • The court reversed and granted a new trial because it found the trial court erred in holding, as a matter of law, that the first accident was not the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries. 
  • The court held that whether the cousin's fall was due to defendant's negligence and whether plaintiff in going to the rescue as he did was foolhardy or reasonable in light of the emergency confronting him were questions for the jury.
The judgment was reversed and a new trial granted.

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