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it, and that the service wa necessarily accompanied with the danger that the person intrusted with the machinery might be occasionally negligent, and fail in his duty.” Lord Chancellor CHELMSFORD, who gave the principal opinion in the latter case, referred to previous cases in which the master's exemption from liability had been sustained, and said: “In the consideration of these cases it did not become necessary to define with any great precision what was meant by the words common service or common employment,' and perhaps it might be difficult beforehand to suggest any exact definition of them. It is necessary, however, in each particular case to ascertain whether servants are fellow-laborers in the same work, because, although a servant may be taken to have engaged to encounter all risks which are incident to the service which he undertakes, yet he cannot be expected to anticipate those which may happen to him on occasions foreign to his employment. Where servants, therefore, are engaged in different departments of duty, an injury committed by one servant upon another, by carelessness or negligence in the course of his peculiar work, is not within the exemption, and the master's liability attaches in that case in the same manner as if the injured servants stood in no such relation to him.” The lord chancellor also commented upon some decisions of the Scotch courts, and among others that of McNaughton v. Caledonian Ry. Co. 19 Ct. Sess. Cas. 271, and said that it might be “sus. tained without conflicting with the English authorities, on the ground that the workmen in that case were engaged in totally different departments of work, the deceased being a joiner or carpenter who, at the time of the accident, was engaged in repairing a railway carriage; and the persons by whose negligence his death was occasioned, were the engine-driver and the persons who arranged the switches.” And in the same case Lord BROUGHAM, after mentioning the observations of a judge of the Scottish courts that an absolute and inflexible rule, releasing the master from responsibility in every case where one servant is injured by the fault of another, was utterly unknown to the law of Scotland, said that it was also utterly unknown to the law of England, and added: “To bring the case within the exemption there must be this most material qualification: that the two servants must be men in the same common employment, and engaged in the same common work under that common employment."
Later decisions in the English courts extend the master's exemption from liability to cases where the servant injured is working under the direction of a foreman or superintendent, the grade of service of the latter not being a deemed to change the relation of the two as fellow-servants. Thus, in Wil.. son v. Merry, decided by the house of lords in 1868, on appeal from the court: of session of Scotland, the submanager of a coal-pit, whose negligence in erecting a scaffold which obstructed the circulation of air underneath, and led to an accumulation of fire-damp that exploded and injured a workman in the mine, was held to be a fellow-servant with the injured party. And the court laid down the rule that the master was not liable to his servant unless there was negligence on the master's part in that which he had contracted with the servant to do, and that the master, if not personally superintending the work, was only bound to select proper and competent persons to do so, and furnish them with adequate materials and resources for the work; that when he had done this he had done all that he was required to do, and if the persons thus selected were guilty of negligence, it was not his negligence, and he was not responsible for the consequences.
L. R. 1 H. L. Scotch App. 326. In this case, as in many others in the English courts, the foreman, manager, or superintendent of the work, by whose negligence the injury was committed, was himself also a workman with the other laborers, although exercising a direction over the work. The reasoning of that case has been applied so as to include, as contended here, employes of a corporation in a department separated from each other, and it must be admitted that the terms
“common employment,” under late decisions in England, and the decisions in this country following the Massachusetts case, are of very comprehensive import. It is difficult to limit them so as to say that any persons employed by a railway company, whose labors may facilitate the running of its trains, are not fellow-servants, however widely separated may be their labors. See Holden v. Fitchburgh R. Co.129 Mass. 268. But, notwithstanding the number and weight of such decisions, there are, in this country, many adjudications of courts of great learning restricting the exemption to cases where the fellow-servants are engaged in the same department, and act under the same immediate direction; and holding that, within the reason and principle of the doctrine, only such servants can be considered as engaged in the same common employment. It is not, however, essential to the decision of the present controversy to lay down a rule which will determine, in all cases, what is to be deemed such an employment, even if it were possible to do so.
There is, in our judgment, a clear distinction to be made in their relation to their common principal between servants of a corporation exercising no supervision over others engaged with them in the same employment and agents of the corporation, clothed with the control and management of a dis. tinct department, in which their duty is entirely that of direction and superintendence. A conductor having the entire control and management of a railway train occupies a very different position from the brakemen, the porters, and other subordinates employed. He is in fact, and should be treated as, the personal representative of the corporation, for whose negligence it is responsible to subordinate servants. This view of his relation to the corporation seems to us a reasonable and just one, and it will insure more care in the selection of such agents, and thus give greater security to the servants engaged under him in an employment requiring the utmost vigilance on their part, and prompt and unhesitating obedience to his orders. The rule whicb applies to such agents of one railway corporation must apply to all, and many corporations operate every day several trains over hundreds of miles at great distances apart, each being under the control and direction of a conductor specially appointed for its management. We know from the manner in which railways are operated that, subject to the general rules and orders of the directors of the companies, the conductor has entire control and management of the train to which he is assigned. He directs when it shall start, at what speed it shall run, at what stations it shall stop and for what length of time, and everything essential to its successful movements, and all persons employed on it are subject to his orders. In no proper sense of the terms is he a fellow-servant with the firemen, the brakemen, the porters, and the engineer. The latter are fellow-servants in the running of the train under his di. rection, who, as to them and the train, stands in the place of and represents the corporation.
As observed by Mr. Wharton in his valuable Treatise on the Law of Negligence: “It has sometimes been said that a corporation is obliged to act always by servants, and that it is unjust to impute to it personal negligence in cases where it is impossible for it to be negligent personally. But if this be true it would relieve corporations from all liability to servants. The trut view is that, as corporations can act only through superintending officers, the negligences of those officers, with respect to other servants, are the negli. gences of the corporation." Section 232a. The author, in a note, refers to Brickner v. New York Cent. R. Co., decided in the supreme court of New York, and afterwards affirmed in the court of appeals; and to Malone v Hathaway, decided in the latter court, in which opinions are expressed in conformity with his views. These opinions are not, it is true, authoritative, for they do not cover the precise points in judgment; but were rather expressed to distinguish the questions thus arising from those then before the crurt. They indicate, however, a disposition to ingraft a limitation upon
the general doctrine as to the master's exemption from liability to his servants for the negligence of their fellows, when a corporation is the principal, and acts through superintending agents. Thus, in the first case, the court said: "A corporation cannot act personally. It requires some person to superin. tend structures, to purchase and control the running of cars, to employ and discharge men, and provide all needful appliances. This can only be done by agents. When the directors themselves personally act as such agents, they are the representatives of the corporation. They are then the executive head or master. Their acts are the acts of the corporation. The duties above described are the duties of the corporation. When these directors appoint some person other than themselves to superintend and perform all these executive duties for them, then such appointee, equally with themselves, represents the corporation as master in all those respects. And though, in the performance of these executive duties, he may be, and is, a servant of the corporation, he is not in those respects a co-servant, & co-laborer, a co-employe, in the common acceptation of those terms, any more than is a director who exercises the same authority.” 2 Lans. 516. Affirmed in 49 N. Y. 672. And in Malone v. Hathaway, in the court of appeals, Judge ALLEN says: “Corporations necessarily acting by and through agents, those having the superin. tendence of various departments, with delegated authority to employ and discharge laborers and employes, provide materials and machinery for the service of the corporation, and generally direct and control under general powers and instructions from the directors, may well be regarded as the representatives of the corporation, charged with the performance of its duties, exercising the discretion ordinarily exercised by principals, and, within the limits of the delegated authority, the acting principal. These acts are in such case the acts of the corporation, for which and for whose neglect the corporation, within adjudged cases, must respond, as well to the other servants of the company as to strangers. They are treated as the general agents of the corporation in the several departments committed to their care." 64 N. Y.5, 12. See, also, Corcoran v. Holbrook, 59 N. Y. 517.
In Little Miami R. Co. v. Stevens, the supreme court of Ohio held that where a railroad company placed the engineer in its employ under the control of a conductor of its train, who directed when the cars were to start and when to stop, it was liable for an injury received by him caused by the negligence of the conductor. 20 Ohio, 415. There a collision between two trains occurred in consequence of the omission of the conductor to inform the engineer of a change of places in the passing of trains ordered by the company. Exeinption from liability was claimed on the ground that the engineer and conductor were fellow-servants, and that the engineer had, in consequence, taken, by his contract of service, the risk of the negligence of the conductor; and also that public policy forbade a recovery in such cases. But the court rejected both positions. To the latter it very pertinently observed that it was only when the servant had himself been careful that any right of action could accrue to him, and that it was not likely that any would be careless of their lives and persons or property merely because they might have a right of action to recover for injuries received. “If men are intluenced," said the court, “by such remote considerations to be careless of what they are likely to be most careful about, it has never come under our observation. We think the policy is clearly on the other side. It is a matter of universal ob. servation that, in any extensive business where many persons are employed, the care and prudence of the employer is the surest guaranty against mismanagement of any kind." In Railway Co. v. Keury, 3 Ohio St. 201, the same court affirmed the doctrine thus announced, and decided that when a brakeman in the employ of a railroad company, on a train under the control of a conductor having exclusive command, was injured by the carelessness of the conductor, the company was responsible; holding that the conductor in
such case was the sole and immediate representative of the company, upon which rusted the obligation to manage the train with skill and care. In the course of an elaborate opinion the court said that, from the very nature of the contract of service between the company and employes, the company was unler obligation to them to superintend and control with skill and care the dangerous force employed, upon which their safety so essentially depended. "For this purpose,” said the court, “the conductor is employed, and in this he di. rectly represents the company. They contract for and engage his care and skill. They commission him to exercise that dominion over the operations of the train which essentially pertains to the prerogatives of the owner, and in its exercise he stands in the place of the owner, and is in the discharge of a duty which the owner, as a man, and a party to the contract of service, owes to those placed under him, and whose lives may depend un his fidelity. His will alone controls everything, and it is the will of the owner that his intelligence alone should be trusted for this purpose. This service is not common to him and the hands placed under him. They have nothing to do with it. His du. ties and their duties are entirely separate and distinct, although both necessary to produce the result. It is his to command and theirs to obey and execute. No service is common that does not admit a common participation, and no servants are fellow-servants when one is placed in control over the
* In Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Collins, 2 Duv. 114, the subject was elaborately considered by the court of appeals of Kentucky; and it held that, in all those operations which require care, vigilance, and skill, and which are perforced through the instrumentality of superintending agents, the invisible corporation, though never actually, is yet always constructively, present through its agents who represent it, and whose acts, within their representative spheres, gre its acts; that the rule of the English courts, that the company is not responsible to one of its servants for an injury inflicted from the neglect of a fellow-servant, was not adopted to its full extent in that state, and was re garded there as anomalous, inconsistent with principio and public policy, and unsupported by any good and consistent reason. In commenting upon this decision in his Treatise on the Law of Railways, Redfield speaks with emphatic approval of the declaration that the corporation is to be regarded as constructively present in all acts performed by its general agents within the scope of their authority. "The consequences of mistake or misapprehension upon this point,” says the author, “have led many courts into conclusions greatly at variance with the common instincts of reason and humanity, and have tended to interpose an unwarrantable shield between the conduct of railway employes and the just responsibility of the company. We trust that the reasonableness and justice of this construction will, at no distant day, induce its universal adoption." Vol. 1, p. 554.
There are decisions in the courts of other states, more or less in conformity with those cited from Ohio and Kentucky, rejecting or limiting, to a greater or less extent, the master's exemption from liability to a servant for the negligent conduct of his fellows. We agree with them in holding—and the present case requires no further decision--that the conductor of a railway train, who commands its movements, directs when it shall start, at what stations it shall stop, at what speed it shall run, and has the general management of it, and control over the persons employed upon it, represents the company, and therefore that, for injuries resulting from his negligent acts, the company is responsible. If such a conductor does not represent the company, then the train is operated without any representative of its owner. If, now, we apply these views of the relation of the conductor of a railway train to the company, and to the subordinates under him on the train, the objections urged to the charge of the court will be readily disposed of. Its language, in sonue sentences, may be open to verbal criticism; but its purport touching
the liability of the company is that the conductor and engineer, though both employes, were not fellow-servants in the sense in which that term is used in the decisions; that the former was the representative of the company, standing in its place and stead in the running of the train, and that the latter was, in that particular, his subordinate, and that for the former's negligence, by which the latter was injured, the company was responsible.
It was not disputed on the trial that the collision which caused the injury complained of was the result of the negligence of the conductor of the freight train, in failing to show to the engineer the order which he had received, to stop the train at South Minneapolis until the gravel train, coming on the same road from an opposite direction, had passed; and the court charged the jury that if they so found, and if the plaintitf did not contribute to his injury by his own negligence, the company was liable; holding that the relation of superior and inferior was created by the company, as between the two, in the operation of its train, and that they were not, within the reason of the law, fellow-servants engaged in the same common employment. As this charge was, in our judgment, correct, the plaintiff was entitled to recover upon the conceded negligence of the conductor. The charge on other points is immaterial; whether correct or erroneous, it could not have changed the result; the verdict of the jury could not have been otherwise than for the plaintiff. Without declaring, therefore, whether any error was committed in the charge on other points, it is sufficient to say that we will not reverse the judgment below if an error was committed on the trial which could not have affected the verdict. Brobst v. Brock, 10 Wall. 519. And, with respect to the negligence of the conductor of the gravel train, no instruction was given or re quested. Judgment affirmed.
BRADLEY, J. Justices MATTHEWS, GRAY, BLATOHFORD, and myself dissent from the judgment of the court. We think that the conductor of the railroad train in this case was a fellow-servant of the railroad company with the other employes on the train. We think that to hold otherwise would be to break down the long-established rule with regard to the exemption from responsibility of employers for injuries to their servants by the negligence of their fellow-servants.