Dice v. Akron, Canton & Youngstown R. Co.

342 U.S. 359 (1952)


Dice (P) was a railroad fireman. P was seriously injured when an engine of the Railroad (D) jumped the track. P sued for negligence in an Ohio state court under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. D defended the action with a document signed by P, which released D from all liability over $924.63, which P had already received. P contended that he had not read the statement before signing the document. D told P that the document was merely a receipt for the $924.63. The jury gave the verdict to P for $25,000. The trial court entered judgment n.o.v. for D; under Ohio law, P could not renounce his signing of the release because he had a duty to read the document before signing it. The court also reasoned that factual issues as to fraud were properly decided by the trial court rather than a jury. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed the trial decision; federal law should have been applied (a finding of fraud would void the use of the document). The Ohio Supreme Court reversed the appellate court decision. P appealed.