27 S.W. 66 (Ark. 1894), Texarkana Gas & Electric Light Co. v. Orr

Citation:27 S.W. 66, 59 Ark. 215
Opinion Judge:BUNN, C. J.
Attorney:Scott & Jones for appellant. J. D. Cook for appellee.
Case Date:June 09, 1894
Court:Supreme Court of Arkansas

Page 66

27 S.W. 66 (Ark. 1894)

59 Ark. 215




Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 9, 1894

Appeal from Miller Circuit Court RUFUS D. HEARN, Judge.


This suit was instituted by appellee, administrator of the estate of Ed. Wallace, deceased, against the appellant company, in the Miller circuit court, at its November term, 1891, and the cause was tried at the November term 1892, resulting in a verdict and judgment for plaintiff in the sum of $ 20 actual damages and $ 200 punitive damages against the defendant.


The cause of action is fully set forth in the complaint, which is as follows, to-wit: "Comes the plaintiff, Thos. Orr, administrator of the estate of Edward Wallace, deceased, and, complaining of the defendant, the Texarkana Gas & Electric Light Company, a corporation existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Arkansas, states that on the 23d day of August, 1891, defendant owned, maintained and operated in the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, a system of electric lights, and that, by means of wires, the electric current was carried over, upon and along the streets of Texarkana, Arkansas--from the power house to the various points of service in said city; that, during the night of the 22d of August, 1891, or early on the morning of the 23d of August, 1891, said company's wires became disabled and out of repair, and, being either broken or disengaged from their fastenings, fell to the ground upon the sidewalk and crossing in the city of Texarkana at the intersection of Broad street and Pine street in said city, and said defendant negligently permitted said wire to remain so grounded and lying upon said street crossing from about 12:30 o'clock a. m. until after daylight in the morning, when said street was thronged with passers-by; that the deceased, Edward Wallace, while passing along said street about or a little after daylight, had his attention called to said obstruction lying upon said crossing, and being ignorant of the character of said wire, and presuming, and having a right to presume, that defendant would not permit a live wire to remain under the feet of passers-by upon so crowded a thoroughfare, took hold of same to cast it aside out of the way of pedestrians, and was killed by the powerful current with which said wire was at the time charged. And plaintiff alleges that deceased came to his death by the gross negligence and wanton misconduct of defendant, its agents and employees, and that deceased came to his death without fault on his part, and to the damage of his estate in the sum of twenty thousand dollars. Wherefore plaintiff prays damages in the sum of twenty thousand dollars, and his cost in and about this cause expended."

The answer is substantially a denial of all the material allegations in the complaint.

The evidence in the case is to the effect that, during the night of the 22d day of August 1891, there was an electrical storm in Texarkana, such as was never known in that locality before that time; that at that time the appellant corporation was operating its lamps and wires in that city for the purpose of furnishing lights to its inhabitants; that there was more or less of inexperience in the persons immediately in charge of the operation of the machinery at the "power house;" that there was an apparent want of that extra care and watchfulness on the part of those in control, which the peculiar circumstances seem to have demanded; and that, by reason of the terrific character of the storm, and its effect upon the machinery and wires, there was considerable demoralization among the employees then on duty.

The testimony goes to show that some of the wires were broken...

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