HOUGH V. RAILWAY COMPANY, 100 U. S. 213 (1879)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hough v. Railway Company, 100 U.S. 213 (1879)

Hough v. Railway Company

100 U.S. 213


1. The general rule exempting the common master, whether a natural person or a corporation, from liability to a servant for injuries caused by the negligence of a fellow servant recognized and considered.

2. To that rule there are well defined exceptions, one of which arises from the obligation of the master not to expose the servants, when conducting his business, to perils or hazards against which they may be guarded by proper diligence upon his part.

3. Therefore, although his liability to them is not that of a guarantor of the absolute safety or perfection of the machinery or other apparatus provided for their use, he is bound to exercise the care which the exigency reasonably requires, in furnishing such as is adequate and suitable.

Page 100 U. S. 214

4. A railroad company is liable when its officers or agents who are invested with a controlling or superior duty in that regard are, in discharging it, guilty of negligence, from which injury to an innocent party results.

5. If the servant of such a company who has knowledge of defects in machinery gives notice thereof to the proper officer, and is promised that they shall be remedied, his subsequent use of it, in the well grounded belief that it will be put in proper condition within a reasonable time, does not necessarily, or as matter of law, make him guilty of contributory negligence. It is a question for the jury whether, in relying upon such promise and using the machinery after he knew its defective or insufficient condition, he was in the exercise of due care. The burden of proof in such a case is upon the company to show contributory negligence.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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