Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Familiar to most lawyers is the bit of law-lore to the effect that the reason the earliest Pullman cars were so constructed that passengers slept with their heads towards the front of the train was so that they would be killed rather than merely injured if an accident occurred.' Although the reason assigned for the Pullman Company's practice is purely fictitious the logic of the fiction is sound, for the common law gave no civil action for a wrongfully inflicted injury if death occurred before a judgment was recovered, and it thus was cheaper to kill a person than to inflict a nonfatal injury. Not only was it held that the cause of action which the decedent would have had if death had not ensued was extinguished by his death, even if an action had already been commenced ; but also it was held, without apparent reason, that his surviving dependents had no cause of action for the death of their provider.