Citation. Supreme Court of the United States, 1934. 292 U.S. 98, 54S. Ct. 580, 78 L.Ed. 1149.
Brief Fact Summary.
The Plaintiff(Pokora) was driving his truck across four railroad tracks owned by the defendant(Wabash Railway Co.). The plaintiff was struck by a train coming on the main tracks after passing two switch tracks with boxcars. Plaintiff brings suit of negligence against the defendant.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A person is not required when approaching a railroad track to get out and look to see if a train is coming if it is not safe and normal to do so.
The Plaintiff(Pokora) was driving his truck across four railroad tracks owned by the defendant(Wabash Railway Co.). There were two switch tracks and two main tracks. There were box cars coming on the switch track and he moved past that listened for another train heard nothing and proceeded across the main track. While crossing the main track he was hit by a train going north. Based on the facts there is no way Pokora knew a train was coming on the main track.
Whether reasonable caution forbade the plaintiffs going forward in reliance on his sense of hearing and not sight was negligence on behalf of the plaintiff?
No, the plaintiff is not negligent for going forward on the train tracks without stopping and getting out to see if another train was coming.
No, the plaintiff is not contributory negligent for going forward on the train tracks without stopping and getting out to see if another train was coming. The lower courts heavily relied on Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. V. Goodman, where the court held that it is reasonable for a man to get out of his car and look to see if a train is coming. This court distinguishes and rejects the ruling of Goodman here. The court rejects Goodman because it would not have been reasonable for Pokora under the circumstances to get out of his vehicle and stop. First, the crossing was busy, and secondly, there was a line of cars behind Pokora. Therefore getting out in the middle of traffic after passing moving boxcars is not reasonable and will likely be futile. If they were to see a train coming, it would be too late to move themselves and the vehicle they’ve left behind. This court rejects the assertion that Pokora was negligent and limited the holding of Goodman.