Lavender v. Kurn

327 U.S. 645 (1946)


Lavender (P) was suing on behalf of Haney, who died from head injuries suffered while working as a switch tender for the railroad (St Louis-San Francisco Railway and the Illinois Central Railroad), who was represented by Kurn (D). At trial, P tried to show that a mail hook was protruding from the train and that Haney was standing in a particular place where the hook would have hit Haney exactly 63-1/2 inches above the ground. D contended that Haney was murdered and not hit by the mail hook. Haney had been working that night when a train from San Francisco pulled into the station. Haney opened a switch for the train and had to leave the switch open until the train passed. When the switch was not closed, Haney was found face down and dead near the track. He had been struck in the head by a fast-moving, round, and small object. The jury found for P. The Missouri Supreme court reversed the jury verdict because 'it would be mere speculation and conjecture to say that Haney was struck by the mail hook.' Mere speculation is not sufficient to sustain the jury verdict. P appealed to the Supreme Court based on the fact that the suit was brought under the FELA