The Law School Authority

Chicago v. B & O RR v. Kryenbuhl Case Brief

Summary of Chicago v. B & O RR v. Kryenbuhl, S. Ct. Nebraska, 1902

Facts: The df operated a line of railroad near PL house, where it maintained a passenger depot, roundhouse, coalhouse, water tank, and turntable.  A path or footway, beginning some distance northwest of the turntable, extended in a southeasterly direction, passed within about 70 feet of it, and crossed the track at the south. This path was in common use, not only by the members of the family to which the plaintiff belonged, but by the public generally, and there was no fence between it and the turntable. It was the common practice for the children of the family and other children in the neighborhood to resort to the coal-house, roundhouse, and turntable, and to amuse themselves. Pl he was then four years of age and some other children were playing with a push car, moving it up and down on the railroad track. The agent in charge of the station joined them, and rode a short distance on the car. He then left them. With the turntable unlocked and unguarded the children continued to push the car.  The plaintiff’s foot was caught between the rails, and severed at the ankle joint.

Issue: Whether defendant was liable for negligence for not having locked the turntable knowing children were playing upon?

Holding: Yes

Procedure:  There was jury judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Reversed and Remanded for further proceedings.

Rule: But in every case they should be such as a man of ordinary care and prudence would observe under like circumstances. If, under all the circumstances, the owner omits such precautions as a man of ordinary care and prudence, under like circumstances, would observe, he is guilty of negligence.

Ct. Rationale: The character and location of the premises, the purpose for which they are used, the probability of injury therefrom, the precautions necessary to prevent such injury, and the relations such precautions bear to the beneficial use of the premises. The nature of the precautions would depend on the particular fact in each case.

The transportation and manufacturing of public goods demand the use of dangerous machinery.  The danger incident to the use of a lock which would prevent children from moving or interfering with proper use of the turntable is so slight that it is outweighed by the danger to be anticipated from an omission to use it. Therefore the public good demands the use of the lock.  Without the use of a lock, and with knowledge of the children playing on the machinery the owners are liable.

PL A: The DF have a duty to exercise a duty of reasonable care in making the premises safe or in making the dangerous machinery inaccessible?

Def A: The owners of dangerous premises owes no active duty to prevent injuries to trespassing children.

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