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What does Statute 51 of the FELA actually mean?
"Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several States or Territories...shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce...for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment. "Any employee of a carrier, any part of whose duties as such employee shall be the furtherance of interstate or foreign commerce; or shall, in any way directly or closely and substantially, affect such commerce as above set forth shall, for the purposes of this chapter, be considered as being employed by such carrier in such commerce and shall be considered as entitled to the benefits of this chapter."
Translation: This is the law which sets out the scope of the protections provided by the FELA, the law applies to railroads "engaged in interstate commerce", and makes them responsible for employees who are injured due to the negligence of other railroad's employees, "defects" in its equipment or workplace.
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