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Western Union Tel. Co. v. Hoffman

Supreme Court of Texas
15 S.W. 1048 (1891)


When 15-year-old Kelly Hoffman dislocated his elbow, his mother sent a telegram for the doctor to come on the first train. The telegraph office where the doctor lived received the telegram but did not deliver it. Nine days later, when the doctor happened by the Hoffmans’ house, they called him inside. The doctor examined Kelly and determined that the arm could have been reset safely within a few days, but too much time had passed to reset it without significant harm. Another doctor confirmed the arm could not be reset, and it remained stiff and permanently disabled. Kelly’s father, August Hoffman (plaintiff), brought a negligence action against Western Union Telegraph Company (defendant) on Kelly’s behalf as well as his own. The trial court entered a jury verdict of $4,125 for Kelly and $900 for his father. Western Union appealed, arguing that the Hoffmans’ contributory negligence in failing to send another message or seek another doctor for nine days precluded any recovery.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Henry, J.)

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