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Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company v. Arms, 91 U.S. 489 (1875)

Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company v. Arms

91 U.S. 489


1. A passenger in a railway car who has been injured in a collision caused by the negligence of the employees of the company, is not, as a general rule, entitled in an action against the company to recover damages beyond the limit of compensation for the injury actually sustained.

2. Exemplary damages should not be awarded for such injury unless it is the result of the willful misconduct of the employees of the company, or of that reckless indifference to the rights of others which is equivalent to an intentional violation of them.

This action against the railroad company to recover damages for injuries received by Mrs. Arms by reason of a collision of a train of cars with another train, resulted in a verdict and judgment for $4,000. The company sued out this writ of error.

The bill of exceptions discloses this state of facts:

Mrs. Arms, in October, 1870, was a passenger on defendant's train of cars, which, while running at a speed of fourteen or fifteen miles an hour, collided with another train moving in an opposite direction on the same track. The jar occasioned by the collision was light, and more of a push than a shock. The fronts of the two engines were demolished, and a new engine removed the train. This was all the testimony offered by either party as to the character of the collision and the cause of it; but there was evidence tending to show that Mrs. Arms was thrown from her seat, and sustained the injuries of which she complained. After the evidence had been submitted to the jury, the court gave them the following instruction:

"If you find that the accident was caused by the gross negligence of the defendant's servants controlling the train, you may give to the plaintiffs punitive or exemplary damages. "

Page 91 U. S. 492

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