Civil Procedure II, Pages 638–639

Reid v. San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad

Supreme Court of Utah, 1911

Facts:

Defendant let the fence along his railroad break, while plaintiff left the gate in the fence open. One of plaintiff's heifers then got through the fence and defendant's train ran it over in front of the gate.

Procedural History:

Verdict was for plaintiff.

Issue:

If an inference can be drawn either for or against plaintiff, can he recover?

Defendant's Argument:

The evidence is insufficient because it does not show how the heifer got out.

Reasoning:

Plaintiff had to show that the heifer entered through the broken down fence, which he did not do.

Judgment:

This cause of action reversed and remanded.

Rule/Holding:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoPage 639

[W]here the undisputed evidence of the plaintiff, from which the existence of an essential fact is ought to be inferred, points with equal force to two things, one of which renders the defendant liable and the other not, the plaintiff must fail.