Prince William County Virginia Clerk’s Loose Papers

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Mr. Browning: That depends on the particular case and the facts and circumstances surrounding

it. It seems to me in this case, they having impleaded us, and saying we had a broken arch-bar, and that we had to explain that broken arch-bar, I say it seems to me we can go back a reasonable distance to seek the explanation of that so as to relieve ourselves of the responsibility or presumption that might arise from the arch-bar being broken.

Court: Would not your remedy be if these gentlemen had a defective track, wouldn’t it be that

when they get a judgment against you, could not you then sue them if they did not live up to their contract to keep the track up?

Mr. Browning: I haven’t given it consideration, but I doubt if we could.

Court: If they say the Southern Railway Company is guilty and you are not, you are not bound by

that. If is true that your track was all right at the point that these gentlemen claim it was defective, but you had a contract with us to keep the track in good condition all the way to Orange, or the Rapidan River; that that track caused the breakage of the arch-bar, and the arch-bar caused the derailment, and we are primarily liable to Sullivan, and you are liable to us.

Mr. Browning: As I say, I have not given that any thought, applying it to this particular case.

Court: Would not I have to try in this case the question whether the contract between you

gentlemen had been lived up to, or not?

Mr. Browning: They have introduced in this particular case by Mr. Davis, that at the time this

particular train was passing Bristow Station, a portion of it was seen to be down and throwing out fire. Now, that had occurred before -----

Court: (Interrupting) Not only by Mr. Davis but Mr. Hyde.
(After further argument, the court asked how far counsel would be willing to admit testimony as to the condition of the roadbed. Mr. Keith stated they were unwilling to go beyond Bristow, while Mr. Browning asked that it go at least two and a half miles)
Mr. Mackey: Are you going to contend that the truck was inspected at Culpepper, and without

any further inspection endeavor to show that a choppy track caused the breaking of the arch-bar.

Mr. Browning: We expect to show that this train was properly inspected along the line, and that

we have complied with all the requirements of law upon that point.

Mr. Mackey: And that it could not have fallen unless the Southern was in some way at fault?

Mr. Browning: We expect to show the injury was caused by the condition of the track a mile

south of Bristow.

Mr. Mackey: Do you mean someone saw it break loose, or do you mean to make it speculative?

Mr. Browning: We do not mean to make it speculative, but we aspect to prove it in part by Mr.

Davis’ testimony. Such testimony as the court admits that has probative force, it is not speculative. We expect to prove it by competent legal evidence.

Mr. Mackey: Would not that leave the jury to guess that a choppy track did it?

Mr. Browning: It depends upon the weight of our evidence. If we can introduce evidence enough

to prove it, it does not leave anything to speculation, but it proves it.

Mr. Mackey: We want the record to show that the objection does not come from us. We are

willing for the C&O to show this as a matter of defense, provided it does not affect us. If the C&O offers this evidence for the purpose only of showing that a judgment should not be had against them, but should be had by us against the Southern, it might be admissible not so much on the question of its relevancy, which might be admitted for that purpose, but on the question of its weight. As to what weight it would have after it was admitted would be a distinct question as to whether it was relevant, or not. As shifting the burden and scene of this accident to the Southern Railway, if Mr. Browning can show by some affirmative proof that the condition of the track of the Southern Railway since the last inspection caused this arch-bar to fall, I would be inclined to think that he could show it, but if Mr. Browning only expects to show that the car was in good condition at Culpepper, and that there were bad tracks between Culpepper and the scene of the accident, I contend that it is mere speculation which means nothing, and leaves the jury to make a guess which the court will not permit the jury to do.

Mr. Browning: I want to answer the only point that I see as taken by my friend on my right in his

argument, which is as to whether testimony we introduce will be speculative testimony, or not. That is the only real point. The other was the effect on the Southern Railway. We are defending ourselves against his action.

Mr. Mackey: I think we might wait until the testimony is offered.

Court: Mr. Davis, do you know anything about the track south of Bristow? Have you examined it

to know anything about it? Answer – I never made an examination in a minute way. Q. You don’t know anything about it? Answer – No more than apparently it was in very good shape.

Court: I suppose you gentlemen do not object to that. I want to know how far an arch-bar would

be in the condition Mr. Davis has shown it to be, how far would it remain in that condition before derailing the train, and then it would limit the amount of track we have to investigate.

Mr. Keith: When did it first break? It might have been quite a lengthy time.

Court: These gentlemen have said that they are willing to hold it down to a mile.

Mr. Hall: The plaintiff’s expert testified yesterday with respect to a distance of one mile.

Court: I will let him answer the question.

Mr. Browning: I will withdraw the question.

(Jury returns to Court Room)

Mr. Browning: Q. Mr. Davis, you said you thought that car was loaded with pig iron; you made

no examination as to that, did you – the car of the C&O that was derailed? Answer – From the position I had, standing on my store porch, I could not determine which particular car it was, but I merely assumed that it was the car that had the arch –bar or whatever it was dragging on the rail. Q. You merely assume that car was loaded ---- Answer – I could not tell which particular car it was from my position that obstructed the southbound train.

Mr. Mackey: I just want to refresh my memory. Did you state in your examination in chief on

yesterday whether or not you said the car that had the broken arch-bar was a coal car or not? Answer – I don’t know, but there was pig iron scattered on both sides of the track when I got there. Q. So it is evident that some car was loaded with pig iron? Answer – Yes, sir.

C. A. Coflin, another witness called on behalf of the plaintiff, being duly sworn, testified as



By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Mr. Coflin, what is your business? Answer – Engineer.

Q. How long have you been a locomotive engineer? Answer – About fourteen years.

Q. On what road, Mr. Coflin? Answer – Southern.

Q. And before you were engineer, what was your business? Answer – Fireman.

Q. How long were you fireman? Answer – I fired all together, I suppose about nine or ten years.

Q. So you have been about twenty-four years employed with the Southern? Answer – Yes, sir, off and on all together.

Q. You have a suit, I believe, against the defendant, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, for injuries received in the same accident in which the plaintiff in this case is suing? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Your case has not been heard yet? Answer – Bi, sir.

Q. Mr. Coflin, you were, I believe, the engineer on the train No. 17 of the Southern Railway? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. On February 23, 1915? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. That is the train that was wrecked by coming in contact with the cars of the C&O is it not? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Now Mr. Coflin, what time did you leave Alexandria that afternoon? Answer – We left Alexandria about 4:30; the engine to Cameron Run is cut off generally.

Q. What time were you due at Bristow Station? Ans– About the same time we are due there now, 31 or 32.

Q. Were you running on time? Answer – Yes, sir, about on time.

Q. As you approached Bristow Station, coming from the north, did you see any train of another company? Answer – I saw the freight train coming.

Q. You saw it coming? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. At what distance did you see it coming? Answer – I could see the smoke and things from it along about the station, I judge, but I didn’t pay any particular attention to it.

Q. About how far away from your train was this C&O train coming when you first observed it? Answer – I judge within a mile.

Q. Will you state, Mr. Coflin, whether it was going fast or slow? Answer – I couldn’t tell you that.

Q. What speed were you running? Answer – I suppose we were running about thirty-five or forty miles an hour.

Q. Did you continue to watch this train? Answer – No, not particularly only when it comes off the bridge I could see fire flying from it.

Q. Where was that bridge? Answer – I should say about one hundred yards, I suppose, south of where the accident occurred; I judge that.

Q. What is between Bristow Station and the point to the north where the accident occurred you saw fire flying from it? Answer – From underneath one of the cars; it looked to me very much as if a brake or something stuck. You generally see them when they are stuck, fire flying from it.

Q. What sort of car was it you saw fire flying from? Answer – I couldn’t tell, it was about dusk.

Q. Was it a gondola or box car? Answer – I couldn’t tell which it was there, and then I saw it was a coal car.

Q. Was the fire coming from the car on the side on which you were? Answer – I couldn’t tell; we were running a pretty good rate of speed. I suppose that they were running a good rate of speed, and when I saw it wasn’t over four or five seconds until they struck. The fireman saw it, and he hollered, and by that time we went into it.

Q. Did you see the C&O train at the time the trouble started? Answer – At the time when we hit?

Q. No, When it hit the switch or cross-over which caused it to leave the track? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t see that. I only saw the fire fly.

Q. The next you knew was when the fireman hollered? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Then from that point what did you observe? Answer – I didn’t observe anything but the cars and everything falling all around us.

Q. Describe, Mr. Coflin, the extent and appearance of the wreck immediately after it happened. Answer – Well, I wouldn’t well do it. Everything was piled up so. As soon as I got out and tried to get the fireman out, I didn’t have much use of this arm, although it didn’t pain me so much at the time, and I couldn’t get him out and I went to the baggage car.

Q. What was the condition of the fireman? Answer – He seemed to be mashed up through his hips.

Q. Is he living now? Answer – No sir.

Mr. Keith: We don’t think that has anything to do with it.

Mr. Mackey: I think it bears on the accident.

Q. Where was your engine? Answer – Down the bank. The baggage man came to help him out, and Mr. Leachman came and took his coat and put over the top of him, it began raining, and we were going to put him in the car, and I told him ----

Mr. Mackey: We will let that go out.

Q. What had become of the locomotive of the C&O? Answer – It had come on up way by.

Q. Do you know how many cars went on with it? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Do you know how many cars it left behind mixed up with the wreck? Answer – There was one car and the caboose that wasn’t on the track, but hadn’t turned over. There were a good many that had turned over; I couldn’t tell you the number, but quite a few.

Q. Did you, after the wreck, observe the condition of the passenger car and baggage car in the rear of your locomotive? Answer – Our locomotive was torn all to pieces. After we got the fireman and put him in the baggage car I went back in the coach; the seats and glass were torn up pretty badly, and also the vestibule was pretty badly smashed up.

Q. On both cars? Answer – Yes, sir; it wasn’t smashed flat, but the glass and everything.

Q. Were the door jams broken away? Answer – I don’t know, I didn’t take particular notice.

Q. Do you know whether lumber was piled around the passenger car? Answer – I don’t know.

Q. You don’t know whether that is so or not? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Do you know whether any cars were loaded with lumber on this freight train? Answer – Yes, sir, there was a carload of lumber.

Mr. Keith: We would rather he would not be so leading.

Mr. Mackey: Where was it – Answer – The lumber scattered all over the place. Q. How fast were

you running at the time of the impact with the freight?

Court: He answered that.

Mr. Mackey: He said while looking at the C&O, thirty-five or forty miles.

Answer – I judge thirty-five or forty miles an hour.

Q. They had not slowed down? Answer – No, sir.

Q. I will ask you if you know what an arch-bar is? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. I will ask you what effect a broken arch-bar, hanging down on the rail, would be apt to have on a moving train? Answer – It is bound to wreck it.

Q. It is bound to wreck it? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. What effect does a broken arch-bar have on the wheels that make up the truck? Answer – They let the body of the car down on the wheels, and the box and everything drops.

Q. What effect would a disconnected arch-bar, disconnected at one end, have on the wheels and box? Answer – It would have about the same I suppose.

Q. Have you seen many broken arch-bars in your experience? Answer – No, sir, I haven’t seen so awful many, I have seen several though.

Q. Now, I will ask you, as an expert, what is the usual cause of a broken arch-bar or a detached arch-bar, or a hanging down arch-bar? Answer – The most of them I have seen, - I was engineer on a freight that broke one, and it was a carload of oil, but, as a general thing they are from over-loading.


By Mr. Keith:

Q. Mr. Coflin stated that when he saw the fire flying out from under the C&O car he thought it was due to something, but I do not recall what it was. Answer – A brake or something; generally, in going into a station when there is heavy braking on the train to stop it, you will often see fire flying from it.

Q. What other things might cause fire to fly from under the train? Answer – A brake-beam or anything else that will drop on the track.

Q. Sometimes a journal box gets hot? Answer – There is generally a blaze from that.

Q. There is no reason why you suspected there was an arch-bar broken when you saw it? Answer – Not at the time, no, sir; I couldn’t tell.

Q. Was there anything you could have done to stop the train after you saw the cars piling up? Answer – No, sir.

Q. And turning over? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Mr. Coflin, was that train running the usual schedule? Answer – Our train?

Q. Yes. Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. Was there anything wrong with your engine? Answer – No, sir.

Q. Or with your cars in any way? Answer – No, sir.

Q. What sort of car was that Mr. Sullivan was in? Was it a steel car, or a wooden car? Answer – If I am not mistaken, I think it was a steel car. I am not positive of it; I know our baggage car was all steel frame. I was noticing it, and saying how it would have gotten broken up if it hadn’t been steel frame, but the other coach, I am not positive.

Q. Do you know the rate of speed that a passenger train is allowed to pass, and then that of a freight train? Answer – On the Southern we are supposed to run forty-eight miles an hour, not to exceed forty-eight miles an hour, and I think thirty with a freight.

Q. Why is it freights are not supposed to run as fast as passenger trains? Answer – Well, I suppose it isn’t safe.

Q. Was there anything wrong at all with any of your equipment that day, the engine or cars, or anything? Answer – Nothing at all.

Q. Was there anything wrong with the track so far as you know? Answer – No, sir; I come over that track every day.


By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Mr. Coflin, this car was partly wood and partly steel, was it not? Answer – Which?

Q. The passenger car on which Mr. Sullivan was riding? Answer – I don’t know positively.


By Mr. Browning:

Q. Did you mean to say just now that a train in approaching a station, the engineer applying the brakes, that that would have the effect to make sparks or fire fly out? Answer – Lots of times you see it.

Q. And particularly if the brakes do not release immediately, but get what you call stuck? Answer – The brakes stick a lot of times; a lot of times you see them stuck when the fire won’t fly from them, and a lot of times it will with new shoes.

Q. You said that you came over the track every day; your train No. 17 was a local train, was it not? Answer – Yes, sir; we go down in the morning as train 18, and come back as 17, and hit the main line at Calverton.

Q. Your train is in regular train service? Answer – Yes, sir.
W. J. Sullivan, Recalled

By Mr. Mackey:

Q. Mr. Sullivan, between May, 1915, and February, 1916, when you worked at the Washington Steel and Ordnance Company, did you work at night all the time? Answer – No; I don’t know whether it was four or five days of night work.

Q. I forgot to ask you whether you had any epileptic spasms during this period that you worked at the Washington Steel and Ordnance Company between May, 1915, and February, 1916? Answer – When I first applied for a position there they put me on day work, and the spells were so strong I knew I had to give it up immediately, and since the plant was running twenty-four hours in the day I tried to get a shift to put me on night work and go on at twelve, midnight, and get off at eight in the morning, but instead they gave me from four o’clock in the evening to twelve at midnight, and the reason for that -------

Court: Mr. Mackey, is that what you want?

Mr. Mackey: No, sir.

Q. Did you have any spells of epilepsy during that period between May and February? Answer – I had them continually.

Q. About how often? Answer – Every third or forth day.

Q. You said you had earned as much as $40.00 a week with the Sewing Machine Company; did you mean during the year just before your injury, or since, or when? Answer – It was the first years I worked there.

Q. Did you earn as much as that during the last year you worked at the Singer Sewing Machine Company? Answer – Not one-forth of that; $10.00 on an average a week.


By Mr. Hall:

Q. When Dr. Williams made some tests, as you testified before, do you know whether he tested that spinal fluid himself or whether he had it tested by someone else? Answer – I am certain that he tested it himself.

Q. And the same as to your blood, did he test that himself or did other people make the test? Answer – He didn’t take the blood from my arm.

Q. Who did? Answer – The doctors on F street at the laboratory, I don’t know the name, but it is a very large laboratory on F Street.

Q. Was Dr. Williams present when the examination of your blood were made? Answer – I don’t remember.

Q. Do you know one way or the other? Answer – I don’t remember; it was at least ten or twelve doctors around, and I don’t know whether he was there or not. They had my position so I couldn’t see my arm.

Q. How do you know positively that Dr. Williams tested the spinal fluid? Answer – He tested it before me to a certain extent.

Q. He tested it before you to a certain extent? Answer – Yes, sir; he took it out of a little glass tube and put it in another, which must have been a test.

Q. If Dr. Williams testified himself that he did not make that test, then he is mistaken? Answer – I don’t know whether he made the test, but I saw him pour it from one to the other. I am not an expert.

Court: Didn’t you say just now it must have been a test?


Court: Now, he qualifies it by saying that he was not an expert.

Answer – I took it for a test.

Q. Why didn’t you testify to that at first? Answer – I beg your pardon.

Mr. Hall: I want to know what you know about whether Dr. Williams made the test? Answer –

From what I saw, if it was a test ----------

Q. Can you answer the question directly or not? Do you know whether Dr. Williams made the test or not.

Mr. Mackey: He answered that.

Court: He answered two ways; first, he is positive he did, and then he was not positive.

Q. Now, which answer is right, when you say positively that you knew that he did test it, which is right, or do you know? Answer – I don’t know whether he made the test in my presence or not.

Mr. Mackey: That is qualified by the statement that he thought it was a test.

Mr. Hall: Now you left the Singer Sewing Machine Company because of ill health, and because you were unable to work? Answer – Yes, sir.

Q. You did not leave the Singer Sewing Machine Company after you told them you left in order to take a better position? Answer – I am not positive, and I don’t recollect.

Q. You are not positive and don’t recollect? Answer – No, sir.

Q. You left, you said yesterday, because your bad health was such you could not keep the position? Answer I could not ride my wheel to hold the position.

Q. Did you or not say when you left these people you were going to get a better position, and that is the reason you left? Answer – My memory has been so I can’t remember.

Q. If you told the Singer Sewing Machine Company that you did leave to get a better position, is that true or false? Answer – I don’t remember; I don’t remember whether I told them or whether I didn’t.

Q. You don’t know whether it was true or false, whether you said it or not? Answer – I don’t.

Q. And when you told the Adams Express Company you were born and raised in Whipple, West Virginia, instead of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania -------

Mr. Mackey: We object.

Mr. Hall: I want to know how it affected your ability to earn bread for your starving family as to

where you were born?

Mr. Mackey: Objected to as argumentative.

Witness: I will answer it. Of course, gentlemen of the jury, when I left Shenandoah, or Whipple, I

knew my people were at Whipple, when I was young, and I am not positive whether I was born at Whipple or Shenandoah; I said Shenandoah because I heard it talked so much.

Court: I would exclude it if you want, but the young man said that he wanted to answer it.

Mr. Hall: I submit that his answer justifies another question.

Court: Very well.

Mr. Hall: Now, I want to know do you know now whether you were born in Shenandoah or

Whipple, West Virginia? Answer – I am not positive which place. Q. Then, as a matter of fact, you did not tell a story when you signed that application? Answer – In what respect? Q. With respect to where you were born.

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