New York Central R. Co. v. Grimstad:
264 Fed. 334 (2d Cir. 1920)
Issue: Was there enough evidence to allow the jury to find that the defendant's negligence caused the plaintiffs death?
Application: Life-preservers and life belts are intended to be put on the body of a person before getting into the water, and would have been of no use at all to the decedent
-Life buoys are intended to be thrown to a person when in the water, charge will be treated as if the complaint covered life buoys
-The proximate cause of the decedents death was his falling into the water, and it can be assumed that it happened without negligence on his part or on the part of the defendant.
-The jury was left to pure speculation as to whether the life buoy would have saved the mans life
-A jury might well conclude that a light near an open hatch or a rail on the side of a vessel's deck would have prevented a person's falling into the hatch or into the water, in the dark.
-There is nothing whatever to show that the decedent was not drowned because he did not know how to swim, nor anything to show that, if there had been a life buoy on board, the decedent's wife would have got it in time.
-Action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act to recover damages for the death of Angell Grimstad, captain of the covered barge Grayton, owned by the defendant railroad company
-Charge of negligence is failure to equip the barge with proper life-preservers and other necessary and proper appliances, for want of which the decedent, having fallen into the water, was drowned
-The barge was lying on the port side of the steamer Santa Clara, on the north side of Pier 2, Erie Basin, Brooklyn, loaded with sugar in transit from Havana to St. John, N.B.
-The tug Mary M, entering the slip between piers 1 and 2, bumped against the barge
-After feeling the shock, the decedents wife came out from the cabin, looked on one side, saw nothing, then checked the other side and saw her husband in the water about 10 feet from the barge holding up his hands out of the water.
-Decedent did not know how to swim.
-The wife ran back to the cabin for a small line, and when she had returned, he had disappeared
-The court left it to the jury to say whether the defendant was negligent in not equipping the barge with life-preservers and whether, if there had been a life-preserver on board, Grimstad would have been saved from drowning.
-Jury found as a fact that the defendant was negligent in not equipping the barge with life-preservers
-Denied the defendants motion to dismiss (Directed Verdict)