ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. Goodman (Plaintiff) was struck and killed by Baltimore and Ohio R.R.’s (Defendant’s) train when Plaintiff crossed a train track. Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s own negligence caused his death.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The question of due care is generally left to the jury. When the standard is clear, the court should make the decision. However, “when the standard is clear, the Courts should lay it down once and for all.”
Justice Holmes bluntly stated that when a man goes upon a railroad track he knows that he goes to a place where he will be killed if a train comes upon him, and he knows that he must stop for the train, not the train stop for him.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Not knowing whether or not a train was coming, did Plaintiff assume the risk when he crossed the train track without first exiting his vehicle and checking?
Held. Yes. Judgment reversed.
* Plaintiff is responsible for his own death. Plaintiff knows that he must stop for the train. If a driver cannot be sure if a train is dangerously near, then he must stop and get out of his vehicle to check. If he does not, he fails to meet the standard of conduct required of a careful driver and is responsible for his injuries.
* The question of due care very is left to the jury. However, “when the standard is clear, the Courts should lay it down once and for all.”
Discussion. In this case, the court found that Plaintiff assumed the risk of being hit by a train when he failed to stop and get out of his vehicle to check for an approaching train. The court held that the jury should not decide the standard of care in this case because there is a clear duty to get out of the vehicle and check for trains.