N.Y. C. R. Co. v. Grimstad

264 F. 334 (2d Cir. 1920)



Pure speculation and conjecture on the jury's part is not enough to determine proximate cause on one issue, when other issues could have attributed to the incident.


Plaintiff estate filed an action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, Comp. St. §§ 8657-8665, to recover damages for the death of plaintiff's decedent, captain of a barge owned by defendant railroad company. The suit claimed negligence for failure to equip the barge with proper life preservers and other necessary and proper appliances, which resulted in the drowning death of the decendent. The jury returned a verdict in plaintiff's favor. Defendant challenged the district court's decision denying defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint at the end of the case. The court held that that the jury was speculating when it determined that decedent would not have drowned had there been floatation devices available because there were too many other variables. Therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss should have been granted. The judgment was reversed.


Did the district court err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss and allow the jury to speculate on issues of proximate cause?




The court found that defendant railroad company's motion to dismiss the complaint at the end of the trail should have been granted. The evidence did not show that plaintiff estate's decedent would have been saved from drowning had there been a life-buoy on board because multiple factors would still have hindered his rescue.

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