19 S.E. 344 (N.C. 1894), Haynes v. Raleigh Gas Co.

Citation:19 S.E. 344, 114 N.C. 203
Opinion Judge:BURWELL, J.
Attorney:Battle & Mordecai, W. N. Jones, and Strong & Son, for appellant. Busbee & Busbee, Armistead Jones, and R. O. Burton, for appellee.
Case Date:April 10, 1894
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Page 344

19 S.E. 344 (N.C. 1894)

114 N.C. 203




Supreme Court of North Carolina

April 10, 1894

Appeal from superior court, Wake county; George A. Shuford, Judge.

Action by Z. W. Haynes, administrator of John W. Haynes, deceased, against the Raleigh Gas Company for the death of deceased. Judgment for defendant. Plaintiff appeals. Reversed.

Evidence that defendant electric light company had its line constructed along a street; that a guy wire from one of its poles stretched across the sidewalk, and, charged with electricity from another guy wire crossing the feed wire of a street-railway company, had become detached from a tree to which it had been fastened, and was hanging to the ground; and that plaintiff's son was killed by coming in contact with it while walking along the sidewalk,--makes a prima facie case, and puts on defendant the burden of showing that it was not negligent.

Battle & Mordecai, W. N. Jones, and Strong & Son, for appellant.

Busbee & Busbee, Armistead Jones, and R. O. Burton, for appellee.


John W. Haynes, the intestate of the plaintiff, was about 10 years of age. He was "a very healthy, intelligent, moral, and industrious boy, well educated for his age." On the morning of November 15, 1892, he assisted his older brother, who was a carrier for a newspaper, and when returning home, about 7 o'clock, he took hold of a wire on or near the sidewalk over which he was passing, and was killed by an electric current. The place where this occurred was on North street, not far from its intersection of Blount street, in the city of Raleigh. The cause of his death is admitted, and also the fact that the deadly current came from the "feed wire" of the street railway company, whose line was constructed along Blount street, as were also the electric light wires of the defendant. One of the defendant's poles stood on Blount street, and was supported by three guy wires,--one attached to a tree on Blount street, and the other two to trees on North street. The first of these guy wires (the one that was attached to the tree on Blount street) crossed and was in contact with the feed wire of the railway company. The longer one of the other two had become detached from the tree on North street, and

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was hanging to the ground. The current passed along these two guy wires, and killed the boy as soon as he grasped the one that had fallen on or near the sidewalk. These facts were testified to by the plaintiff's witnesses, and seem not to have been controverted.

Among the special instructions asked by plaintiff was the following: "Upon the evidence of the plaintiff, if believed, there is a presumption of negligence upon the part of the defendant, and in that case the burden is upon the defendant to show that there was no negligence on its part." His honor refused so to instruct the jury, and the plaintiff excepted. Pretermitting for the present the consideration of the question whether the boy was guilty of contributory negligence in taking hold of the wire, we...

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