Eckert v. Long Island R. R. Co. – Case Brief

Eckert v. Long Island R. R. Co., 43 N. Y. 502 (1871).

Case Summary

Facts: Eckert saw a little boy sitting on the railroad tracks as a train was approaching. Eckert ran over and threw the boy off the tracks. Eckert saved the boy but was killed in the process. Eckert’s estate (P) sued, claiming that D was negligent by operating the train at an excessive speed in a residential neighborhood. D asserted that P’s death was a result of his own contributory negligence. The jury found for P and D appealed. The appellate court affirmed and D appealed.

Issue: What standard applies if one risks his own life to save another?

Holding and Rule: When faced with imminent peril, one can assume extraordinary risks or perform dangerous acts in attempting to avoid the peril of another without being contributorily negligent. The court held that there had been no contributory negligence by P. The court held that it would not impute negligence to the acts of a person risking his life for another unless the effort was made under such circumstances as to constitute rashness in the judgment of prudent persons.

Disposition:
Affirmed – judgment for P.


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