105 Cal. 389, 15420, Pepper v. Southern Pacific Co.

Docket Nº:15420
Citation:105 Cal. 389, 38 P. 974
Party Name:WILLIAM PEPPER, Respondent, v. SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY, Appellant
Attorney:H. V. Morehouse, Hiram D. Tuttle, H. L. Gear, Isaac Frohman, and J. E. Foulds, for Appellant. D. M. Delmas, William L. Gill, and Bull & Cleary, for Respondent.
Case Date:January 03, 1895
Court:Supreme Court of California
 
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Page 389

105 Cal. 389

38 P. 974

WILLIAM PEPPER, Respondent,

v.

SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY, Appellant

No. 15420

Supreme Court of California

January 3, 1895

Page 390

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Department One

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County and from an order denying a new trial.

COUNSEL:

H. V. Morehouse, Hiram D. Tuttle, H. L. Gear, Isaac Frohman, and J. E. Foulds, for Appellant.

The uncontradicted evidence establishes such contributory negligence on the part of the deceased in his very rapid approach to the dangerous crossing of the railroad track, in view of his means of knowledge both as to the usual time for passage of the morning train from Los Gatos to San Jose, and as to the fact that this particular train had not yet passed that crossing, as must bar all claim to relief in this action. (Abbett v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 30 Minn. 482; Cones v. Cincinnati etc. Ry. Co ., 114 Ind. 328; Wilds v. Hudson River R. R. Co ., 29 N.Y. 328, 331; Spencer v. Utica etc. R. R. Co ., 5 Barb. 337; Lesan v. Maine Cent. R. R. Co ., 77 Me. 88; Pennsylvania Co. v. Morel, 40 Ohio St. 338; Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Fears , 53 Ill. 116; Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Jacobs , 63 Ill. 179, 180; Grows v. Maine Cent. R. R. Co ., 67 Me. 100-05; Grippen v. New York Cent. R. R. Co ., 40 N.Y. 34, 51, 52; Flemming v. Western P. R. R. Co ., 49 Cal. 257, 258; Glascock v. Central P. R. R. Co ., 73 Cal. 140; Trousclair v. Pacific Coast Steamship Co ., 80 Cal. 525; Dascomb v. Buffalo etc. R. R. Co ., 27 Barb. 221, 222; Mackey v. New York Cent. R. R. Co ., 27 Barb. 528, 542; Hager v. Southern P. Co ., 98 Cal. 309; Haring v. New York etc. R. R. Co ., 13 Barb. 14, 15; Schaefert v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 62 Iowa 624; Benton v. Central R. R. Co ., 42 Iowa 192; Indiana etc. Ry. Co. v. Hammock , 113 Ind. 1; Allen v. Maine Cent. R. R. Co ., 82 Me. 111; Salter v. Utica etc. R. R. Co ., 75 N.Y. 279, 280.) In each of the following cases it was held contributory negligence as matter of law to drive toward and upon a railroad crossing without using any precaution to look or listen for an approaching train in time to stop before crossing the track. (Turner v. Hannibal etc. R. R. Co ., 74 Mo. 603; Underhill v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 81 Mich. 43; Nash v. New York Cent. etc. R. R. Co ., 125 N.Y. 715; Louisville etc. Ry. Co. v. Stommel , 126 Ind. 35; Rhoades v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 58 Mich. 263; Cincinnati etc. Ry. Co. v. Howard , 124 Ind. 284; Mann v. Belt R. R. etc. Co ., 128 Ind. 138; Harris v. Minneapolis etc. Ry. Co ., 37 Minn. 47; Brown v. Milwaukee etc. Ry. Co ., 22 Minn. 165; Pence v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 63 Iowa 746.) In each of the following additional cases the view of the train was obstructed until very near the crossing, and it was held to be contributory negligence as matter of law to drive upon the track without halting to listen or look for an approaching train or stopping for it to pass. (Chase v. Maine Cent. R. R. Co ., 78 Me. 346; Terre Haute etc. R. R. Co. v. Clark , 73 Ind. 169, 174; McCall v. New York Cent. R. R. Co ., 54 N.Y. 643; Hanover R. R. Co. v. Coyle , 55 Pa. St. 401; Pennsylvania R. R. Co. v. Beale , 73 Pa. St. 509; 13 Am. Rep. 753; Union P. Ry. Co. v. Adams, 33 Kan. 427; Pennsylvania R. R. Co. v. Righter , 42 N. J. L. 181, 187; Gothard v. Alabama etc. R. R. Co ., 67 Ala. 115, 119; Cleveland etc. Ry. Co. v. Elliott, 28 Ohio St. 356, 357; Merkle v. New York etc. R. R. Co ., 49 N. J. L. 473; Durbin v. Oregon Ry. & Nav. Co ., 17 Or. 5; 11 Am. St. Rep. 778; Lake Shore etc. R. R. Co. v. Miller , 25 Mich. 286, 302; Haas v. Grand Rapids etc. R. R. Co ., 47 Mich 401; Brady v. Toledo etc. R. R. Co ., 81 Mich. 616.) The question of contributory negligence becomes a question of law when it arises upon undisputed and clearly ascertained facts, about which there is no conflict of evidence, and where the course of ordinary prudence is clear and was not followed by the plaintiff. (Flemming v. Western P. R. R. Co ., 49 Cal. 257; Deville v. Southern P. R. R. Co ., 50 Cal. 383; Glascock v. Central P. R. R. Co ., 73 Cal. 141; Trousclair v. Pacific Coast Steamship Co ., 80 Cal. 525; Esrey v. Southern P. Co ., 88 Cal. 406; Hager v. Southern P. Co ., 98 Cal. 309.) Loss of the comfort, society, and protection of the deceased is not an element of damages proper to be considered by the jury, and the court erred in its instruction thereon to them. (Morgan v. Southern P. Co ., 95 Cal. 510; 29 Am. St. Rep. 143.)

D. M. Delmas, William L. Gill, and Bull & Cleary, for Respondent.

After regular train time travelers on the highway are entitled to assume and rely, at least to some extent, upon the fact that the train has passed, and to govern themselves accordingly. (Hudson v. Louisville etc. R. R. Co ., 14 Bush. 303, 306; Wright v. Cincinnati etc. Ry. Co ., 94 Ky. 114.) The court cannot assume or infer, in the absence of proof to that effect, that deceased was familiar with this particular crossing, or knew of the times for trains. (Louisville etc. R. R. Co. v. Goetz , 79 Ky. 442; 42 Am. Rep. 227.) The evidence was conflicting upon the questions of negligence and contributory negligence, and therefore the verdict of the jury should not be disturbed. (McKeever v. Market St. R. R. Co ., 59 Cal. 294, 300; Rice v. Cunningham , 29 Cal. 492, 495, 496.) The evidence tending to sustain the verdict will be assumed as true, and the contrary evidence as untrue. (California Bank v. Sayre , 85 Cal. 102.) The question of contributory negligence is ordinarily one for a jury. (Jamison v. San Jose etc. R. R. Co ., 55 Cal. 593; Schierhold v. North Beach etc. R. R ., 40 Cal. 447; Franklin v. Southern Cal. Motor etc. Co ., 85 Cal. 63, 70; Deering on Negligence, sec. 403, and cases cited; 2 Shearman and Redfield on Negligence, 282, note 3, and cases cited; 1 Shearman and Redfield on Negligence, sec. 114.) In cases not unlike this the question of the contributory negligence of the deceased was held one of fact and not of law. (Nehrbas v. Central P. R. R. Co ., 62 Cal. 320; Hynes v. San Francisco etc. R. R. Co ., 65 Cal. 316; Schum v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co ., 107 Pa. St. 8, 14; 52 Am. Rep. 468; Kellogg v. New York Cent. etc. R. R. Co ., 79 N.Y. 72; Pennsylvania R. R. Co. v. Ogier , 35 Pa. St. 60; 78 Am. Dec. 322.) It is for the jury to pass upon the facts of contributory negligence, and for them to draw the inferences of fact, and their verdict will not be disturbed, unless no such conclusion could be drawn in the minds of reasonable men. (McDermott v. San Francisco etc. R. R. Co ., 68 Cal. 33, 34.) Whether or not a traveler in approaching a crossing is guilty of contributory negligence under all the circumstances is ordinarily and in the great majority of cases a question of fact for the jury. (Massoth v. Delaware etc. Canal Co ., 64 N.Y. 524, 525, 529, 530; Omaha etc. R. R. Co. v. O'Donnell, 22 Neb. 475; Wright v. Cincinnati etc. Ry. Co ., 94 Ky. 114; Tyler v. New York etc. R. R. Co ., 137 Mass. 238, 241-43; Wesley v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co ., 84 Iowa 441; Toledo etc. Ry. Co. v. Kline , 135 Ill. 41; Terre Haute etc. R. R. Co. v. Voelker , 129 Ill. 541; Greany v. Long Island R. R. Co ., 101 N.Y. 419, 425, 428; Leonard v. New York...

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