EMPIRE STATE CATTLE CO. V. ATCHISON, T. & S.F. RY. CO., 210 U. S. 1 (1908)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Empire State Cattle Co. v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 210 U.S. 1 (1908)

Empire State Cattle Company v. Atchison,

Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company

No. 178, 179

Argued March 13, 16, 1908

Decided May 4, 1908

210 U.S. 1


The fact that each party asks for a peremptory instruction to find in his favor does not submit the issues of fact to the court so as to deprive either party of the right to ask other instructions and to except to the refusal to give them, or to deprive him of the right to have questions of fact submitted to the jury where the evidence on the issues joined is conflicting or divergent inferences may be drawn therefrom. Beuttell v. Magone, 157 U. S. 154, distinguished.

Although a peremptory instruction of the trial court cannot be sustained on the ground that, both parties having asked a peremptory instruction, the case was taken from the jury notwithstanding special instructions had been asked by the defeated party, the verdict will be sustained if the evidence was of such a conclusive character that it would have been the duty of the court to set aside the verdict had it been for the other party.

The Kansas City flood of 1903 was so unexpected and of such an unprecedented character that a railroad company was not, under the circumstances of this case, chargeable with negligence in sending cattle trains via Kansas City or for failing to move the cattle from the stockyards before the climax of the flood.

The duty that may rest on a carrier under normal conditions to transport merchandise by a particular, and the most advantageous, route is restrained

Page 210 U. S. 2

and limited by the right of the carrier, in case of necessity, to resort to such other reasonable direct route as may be available under the existing conditions to carry the freight to its destination, and if such necessity exists, in the absence of negligence in selecting the changed route, the carrier is not responsible for damages resulting from the change even if such change may be, in law, a concurring and proximate cause of such damages.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 210 U. S. 6

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