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Opinion of the Court.
air course and mine to make it safe. Indeed, the evidence goes further, and shows that after the explosion and on the day of the investigation by the coroner's jury, and while much of the debris caused by the explosion was still in the fourth left air course, a sufficiency of air was passing through it over the water and debris through the low place, which was claimed by the plaintiff to have been obstructed by water, for the proper ventilation of the entry and its rooms and the expulsion of all harmful gases, and for the men and animals working there at the time of the explosion. There is no evidence that the condition of the fourth left air course was the direct or proximate cause of the explosion, and for the plaintiff to recover this must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The court also held that Flick, Kelly and Donahue were fellow-servants of the deceased; therefore, if the contention of the plaintiff was true, that the gas was ignited by their negligence, the defendant had no cause for action.
We have read the evidence, and we cannot concur with the Supreme Court of the Territory that the trial court “should have granted the motion of the defendant, and instructed to find the defendant not guilty.” It was for the jury to determine from the evidence the place of the explosion and its cause, and what, if any, negligence the defendant was guilty of, and the evidence offered on the issues required the submission of those questions to the jury.
The effect of the act of Flick, Kelly and Donahue we will consider hereafter.
The trial court, in giving instructions to the jury, read section 6 of the act of Congress of March 3, 1891, which is as follows:
“By section 6 of an act of Congress, approved March 3, 1891, c. 564, 26 Stat. 1104, it is provided as follows:
“Sec. 6. That the owners or managers of every coal mine at a depth of one hundred feet or more shall provide an adequate amount of ventilation of not less than fifty-five cubic feet of pure air per second, or thirty-three hundred cubic feet per minute, per every fifty men at work in said mine and in like proportions per a greater number, which air shall by proper
Opinion of the Court.
appliances or machinery be forced through such mine to the face of each and every working place so as to dilute and render harmless and expel therefrom the noxious or poisonous gases, and all workings shall be kept clear of standing gas.?”
The court then instructed the jury as follows:
“ If, therefore, the jury believe from the evidence that the defendant, the Cerillos Coal Railroad Company, was operating a coal mine at a depth of more than one hundred feet below the surface of the earth, and that the plaintiff's intestates respectively were employed by the defendant in the operation of said coal mine, it was, by reason of said act of Congress, the duty of the defendant to provide an adequate amount of ventilation of not less than thirty-five cubic feet of pure air per
second and thirty-three hundred cubic feet per minute for every fifty men who worked in said inine, which air should have been, by proper appliances or machinery, forced through such mine to the face of each and every working place therein, so as to dilute and render harmless and expel therefrom the noxious or poisonous gases, and all workings of such mine should have been kept clear of standing gas in dangerous quantities; and if the jury believe from the evidence that the defendant, the Cerillos Coal Railroad Company, failed or neglected to provide an adequate amount of ventilation so as to dilute and render harmless and expel from the said mine the noxious poisonous gases which were generated therein, or to keep the working places of said mine clear of standing gas, such failure on the part of the defendant may be considered by the jury as evidence of negligence on the part of the defendant.
“9. Negligence is defined to be the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. It must be determined in all cases by reference to the situation and knowledge of the parties and all the attending circumstances. If an occupation attended with danger can be prosecuted by proper precautions without fatal results, such precautions must be taken by the promoters of the pursuit
Opinion of the Court.
or employers of laborers therein. All occupations producing articles or works of necessity, utility or convenience, may undoubtedly be carried on and competent persons familiar with the business and having sufficient skill therein, may properly be employed upon them, but in such cases where the occupation is attended with danger to life or limb, it is incumbent on the promoters thereof, and the employers or others thereon, to take all reasonable and needed precautions to secure safety to the persons engaged in their prosecution, and for any negligence in this respect from which injury follows to the persons engaged, such promoters and employers may be held responsible and mulcted to the extent of the injury inflicted, if any. Occupations, however important, which cannot be conducted without necessary danger to life, body or limb, should not be prosecuted at all without reasonable precautions against such dangers afforded by science. The necessary danger attending them should operate as a prohibition of their pursuit without such safeguards. Indeed, it may be laid down as a legal principle that in all occupations attended with great and unusual danger, there must be used all appliances readily attainable known to science for the prevention of accidents, and that a neglect to provide such readily attainable appliances, and to keep the same in fit and suitable condition, will be regarded as proof of culpable negligence.
“10. I charge you, gentlemen, that it is the duty of the master to use reasonable care and diligence to provide a reasonably safe place in which his servants shall perform their respective duties, and also to use reasonable care and diligence to provide reasonably safe appliances for the protection of his servants, and to use reasonable care and diligence to keep such appliances in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of his servants; and the master cannot, by the delegation of any part of his duty to an agent, or servant, relieve himself of responsibility for injuries to his servants arising from the neglect of this duty. Any agent or servant of the master, appointed by him for the purpose of looking to the safety of such appliances without regard to the rank or station of such agent, or servant, is the representative of the master for such purpose,
Opinion of the Court.
and the negligence of any such agent or servant in such matters is, in contemplation of the law, the negligence of the master, and the master is liable for any damage occasioned thereby.
“11. Although you may believe from the evidence that the fellow-servants of the deceased by their negligence contributed to the bringing about of the explosion in which deceased were killed, yet, if you also believe from the evidence that the negligence of defendant also contributed to the same result, you must find a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, unless you believe from the evidence that plaintiff's intestates, or one of them, knew, or had means of knowledge, of such negligence of defendant, and notwithstanding such knowledge, or means of knowledge, continued to work in the mine of defendant.
“12. The law requires that the defendant shall keep the workings in its mine clear of standing gas, and if you believe from the evidence the defendant failed to keep the workings in its mine clear of standing gas, and that such failure contributed to the deaths of the deceased, then you are justified in believing defendant guilty of negligence and you must find a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, unless you believe from the evidence that the plaintiff's intestates or one of them knew of the existence of such gas and continued to work in the mine of defendant with such knowledge.
“13. If the jury believe from the evidence that the plaintiff's intestates knew or had reason to know that dangerous bodies of gas were permitted to accumulate in the open places of defendant's mine and to remain for a period of thirty-six hours or more, without any effort on the part of the agents and the servants of defendant to move the same, and that no precautions against the explosion of such gases were accustomed to be taken except to mark the open place were such gas might be with a danger mark, and plaintiff's intestates, notwithstanding such knowledge or means of knowledge, continued to work in said mine, the plaintiff's intestates thereby assumed the risk incident to such method and cannot recover if their fellowservants ignited such gas by going over or disregarding such fire mark.
Opinion of the Court.
“14. If you believe from the evidence that the explosion originated in room 8 of the fourth left entry of the mine in consequence of the accumulation in said room of a body of dangerous gas, merely guarded by a fire mark or danger signal for thirty-six or forty-eight hours before the explosion, and that plaintiff's intestates did not consent or agree to work in said mine with places dangerous because of gas merely guarded by fire marks or danger signals for thirty-six or forty-eight hours, then plaintiff is entitled to recover in each case, although you may also believe that said body of dangerous gas was ignited by the negligence of fellow-servants of plaintiff's intestates."
The main charge of the court was not objected to. The objections were to certain instructions given at the request of the defendant.
They were as follows:
“1. The jury are instructed that what was required of the defendant in the conduct of its mining business, in caring for the miners employed by and engaged in working its mine, was the adoption and use of appliances and methods reasonably sufficient for the protection of the miners against any dangers attending the operation of its mine, that were obvious or might with reasonable diligence have become known; and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is presumed that the defendant performed its entire duty towards the miners in that respect.”
“6. Although the jury may believe from the evidence that gas of the quantity mentioned in the evidence had accumulated and was allowed to remain in room 8 for the time stated in the evidence, and believe from the evidence that the explosion testified to originated in room 8, and further believe from the evidence that signals of the kind described in the evidence warning against entry into said room were placed in such a manner as to be observed by the deceased Flick and Kelly, and the meaning and significance of such signal was understood by them, and such signal was known to be in use by the miners engaged in working in said mine, and that the use of such signal was understood by such miners to inform them of the presence of gas in dangerous quantity; then, if the jury believe from the evidence that such explosion was caused by Flick and Kelly