Monday, November 11, 2013

Beems v. Chicago, Rock Island & Peoria R.R. case brief

Beems v. Chicago, Rock Island & Peoria R.R. case brief summary
12 N.W. 222 (Iowa 1882)

Defendant railroad appealed the judgment of the Cass Circuit Court (Iowa) in favor of plaintiff, an administrator of a brakesman, in the administrator's negligence action against the railroad filed after the brakesman died from injuries sustained at work.


The brakesman was injured while he was attempting to uncouple two train cars. He died as a result of his injuries. The administrator filed an action against the railroad alleging that the negligence of the railroad's employees caused the brakesman's injuries. Specifically, the administrator asserted that the employees in charge of the train's engine failed to follow the brakesman's direction to check the speed of the cars. A jury awarded a verdict in favor of the administrator. The railroad filed a motion for a new trial and a judgment non-obstante. The trial court overruled the motions. The railroad appealed.


  • The court concluded that the testimony sufficiently supported the verdict and that the trial court did not err in instructing the jury. 
  • Further, the court held that the motion for a new trial was properly overruled. 
  • However, the court reversed the trial court's judgment. 
  • The court reasoned that the trial court erroneously allowed the administrator to admit evidence showing the number of members in the brakesman's family and the amount of property he had accumulated. 
  • The evidence had no bearing on the value of the brakesman's life to his estate.

The court reversed the trial court's judgment.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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