Civil Procedure II, Pages 643–647

Pennsylvania Railroad v. Chamberlain

Supreme Court of the United States, 1933

Facts:

Plaintiff's brakeman died while riding a car down a hil. Plaintiff alleged that defendant's brakemen riding behind him hit him and ran him over, which they denied. Plaintiff's only witness, Bainbridge, was 900 feet down the track, only 50 feet to the side, and heard a crash. While he had not been paying attention, he then looked and no longer saw plaintiff and saw the cars touching.

Procedural History:

Trial court granted defendant judgment as a matter of law. Court of appeals reversed.

Issue:

Was plaintiff's evidence sufficient to go to a jury?

Rule:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a)

Reasoning:

Bainbridge only heard cars collide, which was happening constantly in the yard. As he did not see the collision and could not hear if plaintiff was knocked off, each inference had equal support, so they must go in favor of the plaintiff.

Judgment:

Reversed.

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