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U.S. Supreme Court

Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. v. Bobo, 290 U.S. 499 (1934)

Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. v. Bobo

No. 163

Submitted December 12, 1933

Decided January 8, 1934

290 U.S. 499


Decedent had for six months been employed by a railroad to operate the draw and work the signals of its draw-bridge over a stream. His decomposed body was found in the water two weeks from the night on which he last worked and was last seen alive, but the cause of death could not be learned by examination of the corpse. There was evidence tending to show that iron steps, on the outside of the bridge, which he was obliged to use in going to and from an engine house high above the track, and an iron platform at their base, were inadequately guarded, were worn smooth and, when moisture accumulated, were slippery, and that, a few hours after his disappearance, small pieces of wool, possibly from the sheepskin collar of his coat, and a little spot that looked like blood, were found on the edge of the platform. The proofs also showed that he had long used the stairway and platform with ample opportunity to learn of their defects by good lantern light and early daylight, and there was no suggestion of any complaint's having been made to the railroad.


1. There was nothing to show that, if the railroad was negligent in respect of the stairway and platform, the negligence was the proximate cause of the death. P. 290 U. S. 503.

2. Proof of negligence alone does not entitle the plaintiff to recover under the Employers' Liability Act. The negligence must cause the injury. If, on the evidence, the cause is a matter of

Page 290 U. S. 500

pure speculation, the case should be withdrawn from the jury. P. 290 U. S. 502.

3. The deceased assumed the risk. P. 290 U. S. 509.

129 Cal.App. 273, 19 P.2d 10, reversed.

Certiorari to review a judgment of the District Court of Appeal of California sustaining a judgment for the plaintiff in a suit for death by negligence. The Supreme Court of the state denied a hearing.

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