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If from the evidence given it might justly be inferred by the jury that the defendant, in the construction, location, management, or condition of its machine has omitted that care and attention to prevent the occurrence of accidents which prudent and careful men ordinarily bestow, the jury is at liberty to find for the plaintiff.
Henry Stout was six years old when he was injured on the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company’s turntable while playing with his friends. The turntable was in an open space, about eighty rods from the company's depot, in a hamlet or settlement of one hundred to one hundred and fifty persons. Stout, with his parents, sued the railroad company. One witness, then a servant of the company, testified that he had previously seen boys playing at the turntable, and had forbidden them from playing there. But the witness had no charge of the table, and did not communicate the fact of having seen boys playing there, to any of the officers or servants of the company having the table in charge. The railroad company defended the Stout’s action against it by arguing that it was not negligent and that the injury to Stout was accidental or brought upon himself. The jury returned a verdict for Stout. The railroad company challenged the decision.
Under the circumstances, could the railroad company be held liable for Stout’s injury?
On appeal, the Court affirmed the decision of the lower court. According to the Court, although the turntable was located away from inhabited dwellings, it was proven that several boys were playing on the turntable when the child was injured and that they had done so on other occasions within the observation and to the knowledge of the railroad's employees. The jury was justified in believing that the railroad should have anticipated the accident and could have prevented it without considerable expense or inconvenience. The jury properly concluded that the railroad had omitted the care and attention it ought to have given, that it was negligent, and that its negligence caused the child's injury. Although the facts were undisputed, it was for the jury to determine whether proper care was given or whether they established negligence. The facts proved justified the jury in finding that the railroad was guilty of negligence.