such as were here maintained. 45 U.S.C. § 51, 45 U.S.C.A. § 51. And to make its purpose crystal clear, Congress has also provided that 'no such employee * * * shall be held to have been guilty of contributory negligence in any case' where a violation of the Safety Appliance Act, such as the one here, 'contributed to the * * * death of such employee.' 45 U.S.C. § 53, 45 U.S.C.A. § 53. Congress has thus for its own reasons imposed extraordinary safety obligations upon railroads and has commanded that if a breach of these obligations contributes in part to an employee's death, the railroad must pay damages.'
Certainly reasonable men could find from the evidence: (1) that the couplers failed to couple on impact; (2) that the car inspector was performing his job when he went in between the cars even though the switching operation was not completed; (3) that it was his duty to see why there had been a failure to couple and make minor repairs if possible; (4) that while he was performing his job in connection with the uncoupled cars, he was crushed between the cars when another cut of cars hit into the cars on which he was working.
The defendant relies on the case of Reetz v. Chicago & E.R. Co., 6 Cir., 1931, 46 F.2d 50. It claims that that Court made the same distinction as the defendant is endeavoring to make in this case. In the Reetz case, while walking back to ascertain what had stopped the train, the plaintiff fell off a bridge and was killed. The train actually had stopped because the couplers had parted. The Court there distinguished that situation from Minneapolis, St. P. & S.S.M. Ry. Co. v. Goneau, 1926, 269 U.S. 406, 46 S. Ct. 129, 70 L. Ed. 335, and denied recovery because the defective coupler '* * * was not the instrumentality which caused his death, even though, because of its failure, the condition was created whereby Reetz happened to be at the place where he was injured.' Reetz v. Chicago & E.R. Co., 46 F.2d 50, 51. In that case although there was a violation of the Safety Appliance Act, the death of the decedent did not result in whole or in part from such violation but resulted because the decedent happened to fall off a bridge. The Court in that case concluded that there is liability:
'* * * where the failure of the appliance not only creates a condition under which, or an incidental situation in which the employee is injured, but where the defective appliance is itself an efficient cause of or the instrumentality through which the injury is directly brought about.' Reetz v. Chicago & E.R. Co., supra, 46 F.2d page 52.
It appears to this Court in the instant case that the defective appliance was of itself an efficient cause of or the instrumentality through which the death of plaintiff's decedent was directly brought about. Thus, even if we follow the reasoning of the Court in the Reetz case as urged by the defendant, nevertheless, its motion must be denied.
The defendant also urges that the decedent's own negligence was the sole cause of the accident. However, this was a question for the jury and the Court submitted the issue to the jury under the following instructions:
'* * * If you should find that the sole cause of the accident was the negligence of the deceased and that the defendant did not violate the Safety Appliance Act, or if it did violate the Safety Appliance Act and such violation did not contribute in whole or in part to the accident, then your verdict must be for the defendant.
'However, if you find that the couplers on the cars in question failed to perform effectively, as required by the Safety Appliance Act, and that the failure to couple was the proximate cause or a proximate contributing cause of the decedent's death, then it is immaterial that no defect in the coupler was shown or that the coupler functioned properly on other occasions either before or after the accident.' (R. 425, 426).
However, the jury by its verdict found that the defendant did violate the Safety Appliance Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq., and such violation contributed in whole or in part to the death of the decedent. There was evidence by which reasonable men and women could have reached this conclusion. The Court, therefore, cannot disturb the jury's verdict. See Thomas v. Conemaugh & Black Lick R. Co., 3 Cir., 234 F.2d 429.
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