An Arkansas Midland Railway (Railway) (defendant) train derailed causing injuries to passenger Canman (plaintiff). Canman sued the Railway for negligence in Arkansas court. The jury was asked to give a general verdict and answers to written interrogatories. Several interrogatories sought a finding of fact regarding the specific cause of the derailment. The judge instructed the jury over the Railway’s objection that it could return a general verdict of negligence, even if it could not come to an agreement as to the specific cause. The jury could not agree on the cause of the derailment, but nevertheless returned a general verdict of negligence on the part of Railway. Railway appealed to the Supreme Court of Arkansas.