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

    Brief Fact Summary. Beems (Plaintiff) was killed when his foot was stuck while trying to uncouple Chicago, Rock Island & Peoria R.R. Co.’s (Defendant’s) speeding railroad cars. The trial judge instructed the jury that if Plaintiff’s foot was caught and run over without any negligence by Defendant, then they could not find for Plaintiff.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. There is no contributory negligence in this case when Plaintiff has his foot stuck and is run over by a train because of Defendant’s negligence.

    Facts. Plaintiff was a brakesman working for Defendant. Plaintiff was trying to uncouple railroad cars. On his first attempt, he told the operator to check his speed. Believing that the operator would check his speed, Plaintiff immediately tried to uncouple the cars again. Plaintiff got his foot caught and was killed. Plaintiff’s estate sued for damages. The trial judge instructed the jury that if Plaintiff’s foot was caught and Defendant ran him over without any negligence, then they could not find for Plaintiff. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed.

    Issue. Is Defendant liable to Plaintiff in an action for negligence if Plaintiff’s foot was caught?

    Held. Yes. Judgment affirmed.
    * If Plaintiff was run over by reason of Defendant’s negligence, than it does not make sense to hold that Defendant is not liable because Plaintiff’s foot was caught.
    * Whatever the Plaintiff’s condition was at the time of the accident, whether free to move or fastened in place, Defendant is liable if its cars were negligently driven over Plaintiff.

    Discussion. In this case, the court determined that Plaintiff’s foot being caught did not amount to contributory negligence. Defendant was liable to Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s foot being caught would not prevent him from recovering.



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