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Virginian Ry. Co. v. Armentrout – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In Virginian Ry. Co. v. Armentrout, 166 F.2d 400 (4th Cir. 1948), a locomotive backed over and severed portions of a thirteen-month-old infant's arms and hands.

The Fourth Circuit recognized that damages for impairment of earing capacity would be difficult to determine in a case involving a very young child who had no history of earnings upon which an award could be based.

Nevertheless, it held that such damages could be awarded (although it concluded that the lower court had awarded damages that were excessively high).

The court stated:

The problem of assessing damages in a case of this sort is one which must be approached with common sense. The little child has been terribly injured; but there is nothing from which loss of earning capacity can be estimated with any degree of accuracy. The jury must do the best it can to estimate this, taking into account, of course, such matters as average earnings. They can consider, also, that the child is bright and intelligent . . . .(Id. at 407.)