Union Stock Yards Co. of Omaha v. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co.

196 U.S. 217 (1905)

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Union Stock Yards Co. of Omaha v. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co.

United States Supreme Court
196 U.S. 217 (1905)

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Facts

Union Stock Yards Co. of Omaha (Union) (plaintiff) owned stockyards and adjoining railroad tracks in Omaha, Nebraska. Union's tracks were connected by a transfer track to railroad tracks owned by Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. (railroad) (defendant). The railroad paid Union to switch railroad cars headed for locations in Union's stockyards from the railroad's tracks to Union's tracks. The railroad put the railroad cars on the transfer track, and Union hauled them to their final location. One railroad car placed on the transfer track by the railroad had a defective nut. This condition could have been discovered by Union or the railroad through a reasonable inspection, but both parties negligently failed to inspect the car. When one of Union's employees attempted to switch the railroad car, the defective nut caused the employee to be thrown from the car. The employee sued Union, and Union paid the employee damages for his injuries. Union then brought an action against the railroad seeking indemnification for the damages that Union paid the employee. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit sustained a demurrer to Union's petition and then certified a question to the United States Supreme Court regarding whether the railroad should be required to indemnify Union.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Day, J.)

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