Torts I, Pages 215–217

Pokora v. Wabash Ry. Co.

Supreme Court of the United States, 1934

Facts:

Plaintiff was driving towards defendant's railroad tracks. Boxcars sitting on the first track were blocking his view of the rest, so he stopped and tried to see if a train was coming. He couldn't see or hear anything coming, so he proceeded, at which time he was struck by a train traveling 30 MPH.

Procedural History:

The trial court directed verdict for defendant on the grounds that he was contributorily negligent. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this.

Issue:

Is one required to get out of his vehicle to look around an obscured corner if he cannot see it from within his vehicle?

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff had a duty to get out of his vehicle and check if a train was coming.

Rules:

  • Standards of prudent conduct are declared at time by courts, but they are taken over from the facts of life.

  • Extraordinary situations may not be subjected to tests or regulations that are fitting for the commonplace or normal.

Reasoning:

It would be very uncommon to get out and look for the train on foot, and cannot be reasonably expected. Even if plaintiff got out to look, a train may have arrived before he could get back in his vehicle or a boxcar could move into his vehicle sitting on the tracks or he could be hit himself. It is not

Holding:

No, one is not required to get out and look for oncoming vehicles on foot. Reversed and remanded.

Brave Browser – Ad-free browsing