Perkins v. Texas & N. Orleans Case Brief

Summary of Perkins v. Texas & N. Orleans, S. Ct Louisiana, 1962

Relevant Facts: The accident occurred at an intersection shortly after dawn. Located on the NW side of the intersection is a warehouse, 500 ft. in length, that parallels the tracks. The warehouse obstructs the view to the west for an automobile driver and the north for the train personnel. There was a swinging red light, r.r. stop sign, bell, and traffic stop sign present. The engineer was unable to see an auto approaching from the left of the engine. Between 30 and 60 ft from theintersection a car was seen entering the intersection. The train was traveling 37 m.p.h. the car 3-25. The train struck the car killing both occupants.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the cause in fact of the death was the negligent speed and operation of the train?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Widow of Perkins sued R.R. D. Ct awarded damages, appealed Ct. of App. affirmed. Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): Negligence is a cause in fact of the harm to another if it was a substantial factor in bringing about that harm.

Court Rationale: The collision would not have been avoided if the train had been traveling at a slower speed. Evidence was presented that even if the train were traveling at 25 mph the stopping distance was extended past the minimal requirement to avoid impacting the car. Speed was not a substantial factor in bringing about the accident.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The negligent operation of the train, by employees of the company, was the cause in fact of the harm.

Defendant’s Argument: The collision would have occurred regardless of the speed of the train. The auto entered the intersection and ignored the warning signs and devises.

Sine Qua non – Without which not. An indispensable requisite or condition.

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