Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pennsylvania Railroad v. Chamberlain case brief

Pennsylvania Railroad v. Chamberlain case brief summary
288 U.S. 333 (1933)

Petitioner railroad company sought review of the order of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which reversed the district court's grant of a directed verdict in favor of the railroad company in respondent administratrix' action for wrongful death of an employee, under the Employer's Liability Act.

The decedent, a brakeman for the company, fell to his death from a string of railroad cars during a maneuver to break up and make up chains of cars. The administratrix claimed that the decedent fell from the train on which he was riding because of a collision caused by the company's negligence. The only witness for the administratrix testified that he heard a bump, but that it was not loud enough for him to turn around. He testified that he did not actually see a collision. Three employees, riding the nine-car string, testified that no such collision occurred.


  • On appeal, the court reversed the lower court's judgment, holding that the district court properly directed a verdict in favor of the company on the state of the evidence before it. 
  • The administratrix' case could not properly be submitted to the jury in the face of testimony that gave a mere inference that the alleged collision occurred, in light of unambiguous testimony by those involved that no such collision took place.
The court reversed the lower court's judgment and affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the railroad company.

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