31 S.E. 493 (N.C. 1898), Cashion v. Western Union Telegraph Co.

Citation:31 S.E. 493, 123 N.C. 267
Opinion Judge:DOUGLAS, J.
Attorney:Jones & Tillett, for appellant. J. F. Gamble and L. C. Caldwell, for appellee.
Case Date:November 22, 1898
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Page 493

31 S.E. 493 (N.C. 1898)

123 N.C. 267




Supreme Court of North Carolina

November 22, 1898

Appeal from superior court, Iredell county; McIver, Judge.

Action by Anna Cashion against the Western Union Telegraph Company. There was a judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appealed. Reversed.

Merely mental anguish caused by a telegraph company's failure to deliver or delay in delivering a message is actionable.

Jones & Tillett, for appellant.

J. F. Gamble and L. C. Caldwell, for appellee.


This is an action brought to recover damages for mental anguish suffered by the plaintiff from the neglect of the defendant to promptly deliver a telegram. The facts material to its present determination are few. On the 17th day of August, 1897, the husband of the plaintiff was killed while at work in Morganton, N. C., leaving the plaintiff and an infant child. Having no relations in the town, which was the residence neither of her own nor of her husband's family, she caused the following telegram to be sent to J. W. Mock, her brother-in-law, who had been living with her in Morganton, but was then visiting his relatives in Davidson, N. C.: "Morganton, N. C., Aug. 17, 1897. J. W. Mock, Davidson: Come at once, Mr. Cashion is dead. Killed at work. John Payne." This telegram was received at the office of the defendant company at Davidson at 5 o'clock the same evening, but was not delivered until the following morning. Mock testifies that, if the telegram had been promptly delivered, he would have ridden through the country to Statesville in time to take the train that arrived at Morganton about 11 o'clock that night. The plaintiff left Morganton the following morning with the body of her husband, and arrived at Statesville about 7 o'clock a. m., where she remained awaiting a train until 7 o'clock that evening. Mock arrived in Statesville about 10 o'clock the same morning, and returned to Davidson that evening with the plaintiff. Issues were submitted and answered as follows: "(1) Was the defendant guilty of negligence as alleged in the complaint? Ans. Yes. (2) What damage, if any, has the plaintiff sustained by reason of the negligence of the defendant? Ans. $1,000."

There was sufficient evidence upon the first issue to be submitted to the jury, and we think it was submitted under proper instructions. After the well-considered opinion delivered at this term in Lyne v. Telegraph Co., 31 S.E. 350, it must be deemed the settled rule of this court that damages may be recovered for mental anguish, irrespective of any physical injury, caused by the negligence of...

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