Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, an employee of Defendant, was killed after Defendant’s broad-gauge (standard) car began to wobble and tobble on a narrow-gauge truck. Plaintiff claims that Defendant is negligent in using narrow-gauge roads for standard car bodies. The jury awarded Plaintiff $5,325
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Even if a practice is shown to be dangerous, does not mean that it is negligent. Some employments are essentially hazardous. Absolute safety is unattainable and employers are not insurers.
It is not negligence because a particular accident might have been prevented by some special device or precaution not in common use.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is Defendant, Plaintiff’s employer, held liable for Plaintiff’s injuries?
Held. No. Judgment reversed.
* The court fails to find any evidence of Defendant’s negligence. The negligence declared upon is the placing of a broad-gauge car upon a narrow-gauge truck. However, Defendant is in the business of placing broad-gauge cars upon narrow-gauge trucks and Plaintiff is an employee of Defendant who is quite familiar with the methods used in Defendant’s business.
* Some employments are essentially hazardous. Absolute safety is unattainable and employers are not insurers.
* No man is held by law to a higher degree of skill than the fair average of his profession or trade, and the standard of due care is the conduct of the average prudent man. The test of negligence in employers is the same.
* Plaintiff had ample opportunity to know the risks of his employment.
Discussion. The court is unwilling to impose a higher standard of care on Defendant merely because he is Plaintiff’s employer. In essence, Plaintiff claimed Defendant was liable because Defendant was engaged in its course of business. The fact that a course of business is dangerous will not give rise to liability. In assessing a claim of negligence the court is aware that some jobs are dangerous, and it is necessary to look at the customs of the industry, and variations within, in order to determine liability. Modernly, Plaintiff would have sued Defendant, his employer, for worker’s compensation.