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decided: April 16, 1894.



Author: Fuller

[ 152 U.S. Page 687]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

1. At the close of the plaintiff's evidence, the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, which motion was denied, and defendant excepted. Thereupon the defendant proceeded

[ 152 U.S. Page 688]

     with its case and adduced evidence on its part. This waived the exception, and the action of the court in overruling the motion to dismiss cannot be assigned for error. Columbia & Puget Sound Railroad v. Hawthorne, 144 U.S. 202; Brown v. Southern Pacific Co., 7 Utah, 288, 291.

2. The evidence tended to show that Daniels was a brakeman in the employment of the company, and in the discharge of his duties as such, April 3, 1887, on a freight train made up at Green River, and running thence westward; that he was ordered on top of the train to set the brakes at different points going down a long hill, and was so engaged when the train was suddenly wrecked, and he was severely injured; that a wheel on one of the cars of the train had an old crack in it, some twelve inches long, which rendered it unsafe; that the wheel gave way by reason of the fracture and thus the disaster occurred; and that, although the crack, being old, was filled with greasy dirt and rust, it could have been detected without difficulty if the wheel had been properly examined at Green River, which was an inspecting station, at which trains were made up.

Upon the inferences properly deducible from such evidence, the rule applied, which requires of the master the exercise of reasonable care in furnishing suitable machinery and appliances for carrying on the business for which he employs the servant, and in keeping such machinery and appliances in repair, including the duty of making inspections, tests, and examinations at the proper intervals. As observed in Hough v. Railway Co., 100 U.S. 213, 218, the duty of a railroad company "in that respect to its employes is discharged when, but only when, its agents, whose business it is to supply such instrumentalities, exercise due care as well in their purchase originally, as in keeping and maintaining them in such condition as to be reasonably and adequately safe for use by employes;" and the company "cannot in respect of such matters interpose between it and the servant, who has been injured, without fault on his part, the personal responsibility of an agent who, in exercising the master's authority, has violated the duty he owes, as well to the servant as to the corporation." Hough v. Railway Co., and Northern Pacific

[ 152 U.S. Page 689]

     Railroad v. Herbert, 116 U.S. 642, to the same effect, were cited in Balt. & Ohio Railroad v. Baugh, 149 U.S. 368, 386, and it was said: "A master employing a servant impliedly engages with him that the place in which he is to work and the tools or machinery with which he is to work, or by which he is to be surrounded, shall be reasonably safe. It is the master who is to provide the place and the tools and the machinery, and when he employe one to enter into his service he impliedly says to him that there is no other danger in the place, the tools and the machinery, than such as is obvious and necessary. Of course, some places of work and some kinds of machinery are more dangerous than others, but that is something which inheres in the thing itself, which is a matter of necessity, and cannot be obviated. But within such limits the master who provides the place, the tools, and the machinery owes a positive duty to his employe in respect thereto.That positive duty does not go to the extent of a guarantee of safety, but it does require that reasonable precautions be taken to secure safety, and it matters not to the employe by whom that safety is secured, or the reasonable precautions therefor taken. He has a right to look to the master for the discharge of that duty, and if the master, instead of discharging it himself, sees fit to have it attended to by others, that does not change the measure of obligation to the employe, or the latter's right to insist that reasonable precaution shall be taken to secure safety in these respects. Therefore it will be seen that the question turns rather on the character of the act than on the relations of the employed to each other." And see Fuller v. Jewett, 80 N.Y. 46; Rogers v. Ludlow Mfg. Co., 144 Mass. 198; Spicer v. South Boston Iron Co., 138 Mass. 426.

There can be no doubt that under the circumstances of the case at bar the duty rested upon the company to see to it, at this inspecting station, that the wheels of the cars in this freight train, which was about to be drawn out upon the road, were in safe and proper condition, and this duty could not be delegated so as to exonerate the company from liability to its servants for injuries resulting from the omission to perform that duty or through its negligent performance.

[ 152 U.S. Page 690]

     The rulings of the court in giving the eighth and ninth instructions for plaintiff, and in refusing to give the sixth and seventh instructions requested on the part of defendant, were not, therefore, open to the exceptions taken. The sufficiency of the number of inspectors and their competency furnished no defence, nor the contrary, the ground of recovery, though some of the averments of the complaint may have indicated that cause of action.

The trial court charged the jury, among other things, that the defendant was required to "use a reasonable care, consistent with the nature and extent of the business, and provide proper machinery; but it is not responsible for hidden defects, which could not have been discovered by a careful inspection;" that "the burden of proof is in this case, as in all other cases like it, upon the plaintiff, to make out his case to your satisfaction. The law is well settled, both here and in England, our mother country, that the employer should adopt such suitable implements and means to carry on the business as are proper for that purpose; and where there are injuries to its servants, or its workmen, and they happen by reason of improper or defective machinery or appliances in the prosecution or carrying on the work which they are employed to render, the employer is liable, provided he knew, or might have known, by the exercise of reasonable skill, that the apparatus was unsafe and defective.If, by reasonable and ordinary care and prudence, the master may know of the defect in the machinery which he operates, it is his duty to keep advised of its condition, and not needlessly expose his servants to peril or danger;" that "in employing the plaintiff, the corporation defendant did not become an insurer of his life or his safety. The servant takes the ordinary risks of his employment. The duty of the defendant towards him was the exercise of ...

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