Pokora v. Wasbash Ry. Co.

Supreme Court of the United States, 1934.

292 U.S. 98, 54 S.Ct. 580, 78 L.Ed. 1149.

Prosser, pp. 196-199


Facts: The plaintiff carefully approached a railroad crossing with an obstructed view, but got hit anyway and sued the railroad company for negligence.  His complaint was dismissed on the basis that his conduct constituted contributory negligence.


Issue: Did the plaintiff meet the legal standard of duty when he approached the railroad crossing?


Rule: The existing rule was that a driver must stop, look, and listen, as well as get out of his car and look around if necessary.  This Court limits the rule by saying that this plaintiff had no such duty unless he could have safely stopped such that he could have gotten out and looked around.


Analysis: Cardozo basically says that the Court must be careful when it sets down legal duties to make sure that they’re reasonable.


Conclusion: The judgment was reversed and remanded.


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