You’d think it was a knock-down, drag-out fight, this court case between Patrick Phillips’ widow Mary and his employer, the Wabash Railroad. After Patrick’s sudden death at work on May 18, 1912, Mary Kelly Phillips filed suit in the Allen County circuit court the following February.
One short month later, the defendants filed for change of venue, and the case was sent to nearby Wells County.
Over a year later, the case was still grinding its way through the justice system—albeit with the occasional hiatus for celebrity defendants to give rousing speeches in exclusive settings far from humble Bluffton, Indiana.
As the case drew to a close, the newspapers picked up their chorus again—little listings of the faintest hint of news about the Phillips lawsuit. The slightest details could pad the copy and make it seem like this newspaper—be it the Journal-Gazette, the Sentinel, or the Daily News—was the one with the scoop.
Really. Does it matter that the jury deliberations started on Saturday, May ninth, at “4:30 o’clock” and didn’t end until that evening at “10:40 o’clock”?
Not like it was front page news, anyhow. It was tucked away on page thirty of The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that we discover—the following Monday morning, May 11, 1914—that “Mrs. Phillips Gets Verdict for $8,500.”
All of last week was consumed by the Wells circuit court at Bluffton in the trial before a jury of the case of Mrs. Mary A. Phillips, administratrix of the estate of Patrick Phillips, deceased, against the receivers of the Wabash Railroad company, for damages and after deliberating from 4:30 o’clock Saturday until 10:40 o’clock Saturday night, a verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff in the sum of $8,500.Patrick Phillips was killed in the Wabash yards at Walton avenue, May 18, 1912. A suit was filed in the Allen circuit court and was venued to the Wells circuit court upon application of the receivers.Breen & Morris were attorneys for the plaintiff and Leonard, Rose & Zollars represented the receivers of the Wabash Railroad company.
On behalf of Mary, her lawyers, Breen and Morris, had won the case. While I’m not sure $8,500 is a “winning” for the price that widow had to pay, at least she now had means with which to raise her four daughters. It was a struggle that took Mary two years almost to the day to bring from start to finish.
And now, that episode in Mary’s life was over.