Conflicts Keyed to Currie
Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins
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Tompkins (Plaintiff) was walking in a right of way parallel to some railroad tracks when an Erie Railroad (Defendant) train passed by. Plaintiff was struck and injured by what he claimed at trial to be an open door extending from one of the rail cars. Under Pennsylvania case law (the applicable law because the accident occurred there), state courts would have treated Plaintiff as a trespasser in denying him recovery for other than wanton or willful misconduct on the party of Defendant. Under “general” law, recognized in federal courts, Plaintiff would have been regarded as a licensee and would only have been obligated to show ordinary negligence. Since Erie (Defendant) was a New York corporation, Plaintiff brought suit in a federal district court in New York, where he won a judgment for $30,000. Upon appeal to a Federal Circuit Court, the decision was affirmed.
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