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ERIE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD COMPANY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (04/15/65)

decided: April 15, 1965.

ERIE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION



Appeal from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Complaint Docket No. 17761, in case of Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission et al.

COUNSEL

Walter L. Hill, Jr., with him Warren, Hill, Henkelman & McMenamin, for appellant.

Miles Warner, Assistant Counsel, with him Joseph C. Bruno, Chief Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

Thomas Park Shearer, with him Brandon, Shearer & Flaherty, for intervening appellees.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Montgomery and Flood, JJ., absent). Opinion by Watkins, J.

Author: Watkins

[ 205 Pa. Super. Page 293]

This is an appeal by the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Company, from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission directing the railroad to cease and desist from its practice of attaching its freight cars behind the caboose on train No. 99 on the route from Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Akron, Ohio, for the purpose of meeting schedules, and now practiced by the railroad on the average of twelve times a month, where the caboose is in use to house train crews, and further directing the railroad to limit such practice to emergency situations which do not include the mere meeting of schedules.

The complaint was filed against the railroad by the Cooperative Legislative Committee, Railroad Brotherhoods in the State of Pennsylvania, F. G. Gillespie and E. F. Luce. The individual complainants are officers of the legislative committee and employees of the railroad. It sets forth that the practice of so placing the caboose constitutes an unnecessary, unreasonable hazard to the operating personnel. The commission so found and sustained the complaint.

At the outset it should be noted that after years of railroad regulation by the commission they have developed a staff of technicians for their counsel and advice on matters that have to do with railroad operation in the safety field, so that they are able to take notice of what may be obvious hazards to the personnel and the public. This may explain the paucity of the evidence because even this Court from its little or no knowledge of railroad operations have taken notice of the fact that the caboose normally occupies a place at the rear of the freight train. The Division Superintendent of the railroad testified: "Well, frankly, we

[ 205 Pa. Super. Page 294]

    like to see the caboose on the rear end of the train. It's where it belongs."

There was, however, sufficient evidence in the record to support the findings. Under the Public Utility Law, the Commission is given the power and jurisdiction to grant relief to railroad employees whose personal safety is jeopardized by conditions under which they work. Pa. Railroad Co. v. Pa. P.U.C., 202 Pa. Superior Ct. 114, 195 A.2d 162 (1963); Reading Co. v. Pa. P.U.C., 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 146, 146 A.2d 746 (1958). Since there is no question as to the Commission's jurisdiction, the only question before us is whether there is substantial evidence to support the findings and order of the Commission. Substantial evidence has been defined as meaning such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Pittsburgh & Lake Erie R.R. Co. v. Pa. P.U.C., 170 Pa. Superior Ct. 411, 85 A.2d 646 (1952).

There was sufficient evidence in the record to support the findings. It was testified that the two rear end marker lamps "classically constitute the emergency stop signal to a train approaching from the rear" and could not be displayed where a caboose was not the end car and then only a flag by day and an oil lantern at night comprise the stop signal; that "its harder to see a car with one rear light hanging in the center of the rear of it than it would be to see two markers on the caboose"; "it takes a flagman longer to get where he can be seen by a train following when there are cars behind the caboose"; that there was possibility of casualties at highway crossings at grade caused by misapprehensions on the part of automobile operators and other members of ...


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