Friday, December 27, 2013

Cruzan v. New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Co. case brief

Cruzan v. New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Co. case brief summary
116 N.E. 879 (1917)

Defendant sought review of an order of the trial court (Massachusetts) which denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict and held defendant was negligent in failing to warn decedent of approaching railroad car.

Plaintiff's deceased was a railroad brakeman who was killed on a freight train when a passenger train hit decedent as he stooped to the ground in preparation of setting a switch. Plaintiff claimed defendant's employees, a fireman or engineer on the passing train, failed to observe decedent's actions and warn decedent. The trial court found defendant was negligent for failure to warn decedent and held for plaintiff. The trial court denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict.

The reviewing court reversed holding where evidence was not presented that defendant's employees actually saw decedent in time to issue a warning or that the employees had an obligation to be alert for safety issues beyond that of their own train, there was no duty to warn and defendant could not be held negligent.

The reviewing court reversed trial court's denial of defendant's motion for directed verdict and remanded where insufficient evidence was presented that defendant's employees saw impending danger or had duty to observe safety issues on other trains, therefore defendant had no duty to warn decedent and could not be held negligent.

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