The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR
This opinion sets forth the reasons for the Order of this Court denying defendant's motion for judgment n.o.v. or in the alternative for a new trial.
This action against the Reading Company, arising out of the death of Harry C. Randall, a railroad employee, was brought by Randall's widow, pursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act.
The jury found that negligence of the railroad in failing to furnish prompt emergency medical attention contributed to Randall's death from a heart attack and awarded plaintiff $60,000.
I. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT N.O.V.
Defendant assigned eight grounds in support of its motion for a directed verdict, which it reiterated in its motion for judgment n.o.v.
First, defendant contends it is entitled to a judgment in its favor because there was "no evidence that plaintiff's decedent suffered any bodily injury as a result of an accident within the intendment of the Federal Employers' Liability Act." This contention is without merit. The uncontradicted evidence at trial revealed that the plaintiff's decedent, a rear flagman assigned to the caboose of a freight train running between Newberry, Pa. and Tamaqua, Pa., suffered a heart attack while on the job. The gravamen of the plaintiff's complaint was that the negligence of the railroad lay in its agents' decision not to attempt to ascertain Randall's whereabouts after they had reason to know, by virtue of his failure to respond to a radio call from the locomotive after a scheduled stop at Ringtown, Pa., that some mischance had befallen him. The plaintiff contended this action on the part of the railroad employees was negligence which proved fatal to Randall because, had they immediately attempted to locate him, they would have found him by the tracks in Ringtown and could by the exercise of due care under the circumstances have secured medical assistance for him which would have saved his life. The defendant's contention is, apparently, that the conduct of the railroad, which the jury found to constitute negligence contributing to Randall's death, is nevertheless not actionable under the Federal Employers' Liability Act because the precipitating cause of Randall's death was not "bodily injury" caused or contributed to by railroad negligence.
The Federal Employers' Liability Act provides, in part:
"Every common carrier by railroad . . . shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier . . . for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier . . . ."
According to the plain language of the statute itself, the elements of the cause of action based on the death of a railroad employee do not include a "bodily injury." The statute imposes liability on the railroad, under certain other circumstances not here in question, for ". . . death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier . . . ." To import, as a precondition to recovery in an action predicated upon the death of a railroad employee, the requirement that death result from "bodily injury" would be to depart radically from the language of the statute itself and to erect what amounts to an "impact rule" for recovery under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. Had Congress intended such a limitation of liability, the statute could easily have been drafted to provide only for liability for injury or for death resulting from bodily injury. In eschewing a narrow reading of the word "injury" in the Act, which would have precluded recovery for silicosis, the Supreme Court in Urie v. Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 181-182, 69 S. Ct. 1018, 1030, 93 L. Ed. 1282 (1949), stated the guiding principles in construing the Act:
"To read into this all-inclusive wording a restriction as to the kinds of employees covered, the degree of negligence required, or the particular sorts of harms inflicted, would be contradictory to the wording, the remedial and humanitarian purpose, and the constant and established course of liberal construction of the Act followed by this Court."
Similarly, in Jamison v. Encarnacion, 281 U.S. 635, 640, 50 S. Ct. 440, 442, 74 L. Ed. 1082 (1930), the Court said: "The act is not to be narrowed by refined reasoning . . . It is to be construed liberally to fulfill the purposes for which it was enacted. . . ." In harmony with this general approach to construction of the Act, Courts have permitted recovery without requiring proof of "bodily injury" where railroad employees suffer fatal heart attacks during their tours of duty. Williams v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 190 F.2d 744, 748 (5th Cir. 1951); Miller v. Elgin Joliet & Eastern Ry. Co., 177 F.2d 224 (7th Cir. 1949); Stewart v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., 137 F.2d 527 (2d Cir. 1943); Angst v. Great Northern R. Co., 131 F. Supp. 156, 161 (D. Minn. 1955) (dictum). Similarly, recovery has been permitted without proof of "bodily injury" where, through no negligence of the railroad, an employee is stricken with sudden illness on the job, rendering him helpless, and dies because of the railroad's failure to exercise due care in furnishing emergency medical assistance, after it knew or should have known of his plight. Rival v. Atchison, T. & S.F.R. Co., 62 N.M. 159, 306 P. 2d 648, 64 A.L.R. 2d 1098 (1957); Cortes v. Baltimore Insular Line, 287 U.S. 367, 376, 53 S. Ct. 173, 77 L. Ed. 368 (1932) (dictum); Powers v. New York Central R. Co., 251 F.2d 813 (2d Cir. 1958). See also, Anderson v. Atchison, T. & S.F.R. Co., 333 U.S. 821, 68 S. Ct. 854, 92 L. Ed. 1108 (1948); Mroz v. Dravo Corporation, 429 F.2d 1156, 1162 (3d Cir. 1970) (Jones Act; duty of care toward ill crew member); Annotation, "Master's duty to care for or to furnish medical aid to servant stricken by illness or injury." 64 A.L.R. 2d 1108.
For the same reasons, defendant's fourth point, that there was no evidence that Randall suffered any accidental injury nor that his death resulted from other than natural causes,
is also without merit.
I have examined defendant's third point and deem it to be without merit.
The test of the quantity and quality of evidence necessary in an F.E.L.A. case to create an issue for the jury on the questions of negligence and causation, as stated in Rogers v. Missouri P.R. Co., 352 U.S. 500, 506, 77 S. Ct. 443, 448, 1 L. Ed. 2d 493 (1957), is
". . . simply whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought. It does not matter that, from the evidence, the jury may also with reason, on grounds of probability, attribute ...