Erie R. Co. v. Stewart Case Brief

Summary of Erie R. Co. v. Stewart, 40 F.2d 855 (1930)

Facts: Plaintiff (P) was injured when defendant’s (D) train collided with the vehicle in which P was a passenger. D had stationed a watchman at the train crossing where the accident occurred but the watchman was not present to give reasonable warning to the driver.

Procedure: The trial ct. ruled for P.

Issue: Did D have a duty to employ a watchman at the crossing and whether this duty was breached when watchman was not present at the time of the incident?

Holding: Yes

Rationale:There was no statute that ordered D to employ a watchman at the crossing. D voluntarily employed a watchman and by this, travelers came to rely on this watchman. By having a watchman upon whom people relied, D formed a duty to have this watchman at the crossing. According to the ct.: “…the evidence conclusively establishes the voluntary employment of a watchman, knowledge of this fact and reliance upon it by the plaintiff, a duty, therefore, that the company, through the watchman, will exercise reasonable care in warning such travelers as plaintiff, the presence of the watchman thereabouts, and no explanation of the failure to warn." Affirmed

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