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Schofield v. Chicago M St. P Railway Company

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

114 U.S. 615

Schofield  v.  Chicago M St. P Railway Company

This is an action brought by William R. Schofield against the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, in a state court of Minnesota, and removed by the defendant into the circuit court of the United States for the district of Minnesota. It was tried before a jury, and, after the plaintiff had rested his case, the jury, under the instruction of the court, rendered a verdict for the defendant. The suit was one to recover damages for personal injuries to the plaintiff, caused by his being struck by a train running on the railroad of the defendant, while the plaintiff, in a sleigh drawn by one horse, was endeavoring to cross the track, on the thirteenth of February, 1881, at Newport, in Minnesota. The train was running north, on the east bank of the Mississippi river, through Newport, to St. Paul, about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, in daylight, on Sunday. The track was straight from the crossing to a point 2,320 feet south of it, and the country was flat and open. The plaintiff was himself driving, with a companion in the sleigh, in a northerly direction, on a wagon road which ran in the same general course with the railroad, and to the west of it, and attempted to cross it from the west to the east, as the train approached from the south. The crossing was 70 rods to the north of the depot at Newport. Opposite the depot, the wagon road was 280 feet distant to the west of the depot. The plaintiff had a slow horse, and was following the beaten track in the snow. When he arrived at a point in the wagon road 600 feet from the crossing, he could there, and all the way from there till he reached the crossing, have an unobstructed view of the railroad track to the south, and of any train on it, from the crossing back to the depot; and, when he reached a point in the wagon road 33 feet from the crossing, he could have an unobstructed view to a considerable greater distance southward beyond the depot. The evidence shows that, if the train had passed the depot when the plaintiff was at a point 600 feet, or any less number of feet, from the crossing, he could not have failed to see the train, if he had looked for it; and that, if the train had not reached the depot, when the plaintiff arrived at a point 33 feet from the crossing, he could not at that point, or at any point in the 33 feet, have failed to see the train beyond and to the south of the depot, if he had looked for it. When the train passed the depot the plaintiff was at least 100 feet from the crossing. The train consisted of a locomotive engine and seven or eight cars. The engine whistled at a point 4,300 feet south of the depot, which was the whistling place for that depot. The wind was blowing strongly from north to south. The man in company with the plain iff was killed by the accident, as was the horse. The plaintiff resided in the neighborhood, and was familiar with the crossing. After the accident, the men, horse, and sleigh were found on the west side of the railroad, showing that they had been struck as they were entering on the crossing. The train was not a regular one, and no train was due at the time of the accident; it was moving at a high rate of speed; it did not stop at the depot; and it gave no signal by blowing a whistle, or ringing a bell, after it passed the depot.

John B. Sanborn and S. L. Pierce, for plaintiff in error.

Chas. E. Flandrau, for defendant in error.



This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).