Pokora v. Wabash Railway Co. (U.S. 1934)

Procedural History: Relying on Goodman, trial court and then court of appeals upheld directed verdict for the railroad.

Facts: Pokora was driving his truck west across four railroad tracks during daylight. The closest track was a switch track and the one next to it was the main track. A string of boxcars was on the switch track 5-10 feet north of the crossing. The plaintiff heard no bell or whistle but could not see up the track. Pokora was struck by a train coming from the north at 25-30 mph.

Issue: Did Pokora use reasonable caution in going forward in reliance on the sense of hearing since he was unaided by that of sight?

Rules: One has a duty to look along the track from his seat, if looking would avail to warn of danger ahead.

Application: Because in Goodman, the court suggests a prudent person get out of a vehicle to inspect for an oncoming train, this court rejects this because this action is not commonplace, is likely to be futile, and could even be dangerous. The court also considers that while looking in one direction, a train may be approaching from the other.

Holding: This court holds that the precedent of Goodman should be limited and so the judgment for a directed verdict should be reversed and the cause remanded.

Pokora could not have seen the train and so it should go to a jury whether he was negligent.

If you could and did not, THEN it is definitely negligent. You must use your senses as the average person would.

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