57 N.Y. 382, Eaton v. Delaware, L. & W.R. Co.

Citation:57 N.Y. 382
Party Name:CHARLES EATON, by his Guardian, etc., Respondent, v. THE DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellant.
Case Date:May 01, 1874
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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Page 382

57 N.Y. 382

CHARLES EATON, by his Guardian, etc., Respondent,

v.

THE DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellant.

New York Court of Appeal

May 1, 1874

Argued Jan. 14, 1874.

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COUNSEL

Hamilton Odell for the appellant. Plaintiff was not, in any legal sense, a passenger on defendant's road. (S. & R. on Neg., § 262; 2 Bouv. Dict., 297; Buffett v. T. and B. R. R. Co., 40 N.Y. 171; U. P. R. Co. v. Nichols, 11 Am. L. Reg. [ N. S.], 35; P. and R. R. R. Co. v. Derby, 11 How. [ U. S.], 468; Nolton v. West. R. R. Co., 15 N.Y. 449; Bissell v. M. S. R. R. Co., 22 Id., 307; Todd v. O. C. Co., 3 Al., 18; G. N. R. Co. v. Harrison, 26 Eng. L. and E., 443; New World v. King, 16 How. [ U. S.], 469.) Defendant had a right to prohibit carrying passengers on its coal trains. (Nicholson v. Erie R. Co., 41 N.Y. 530; Thurman v. Wells, 18 Barb., 516; Beckman v. Shause, 5 Rawle, 187; Elkins v. B. and M. R. R. Co., 23 N. H., 275; Sewall v. Allen, 6 Wend., 335, 350, 360; City Bk. v. N. Stbt. Co., 3 Story, 33; Lygo v. Newbold, 9 Exch., 302.) A master is only chargeable with the acts of his servant when he acts within the execution of the authority the master gave him. (Condit v. Baldwin, 21 N.Y. 222; Aycrigg v. N.Y. and E. Co., 1 Vroom, 460; Nixon v. Palmer, 8 N.Y. , 398; Bush v. Cole, 28 Id., 269; Satterlee v. Groat, 1 Wend., 273; Lygo v. Newbold, 9 Exch., 302; Mussey v. Buchu, 3 Cush., 517; Esp. Dig., 622; Reynolds v. Tappan, 15 Mass., 370.) A special agent with limited powers cannot bind his principal beyond the precise limits of his authority. (Lightbody v. N. A. Ins. Co., 23 Wend., 23; Rossiter v. Rossiter, 8 Id., 494; Scott v. McGrath, 7 Barb., 53; Stephenson v. Har. R. R. Co., 2 Duer, 341; Mali v. Lord, 39 N.Y. 381; Munn v. Comm. Co., 15 J. R., 43; Beals v. Allen, 18 Id., 363; Andrews v. Kneeland, 6 Cow., 354; Wilson v. Gen. Ins. Co., 14 N.Y. 418; Adriance v. Roome, 52 Barb., 399; Thames Co. v. Hous. Co., 24 Conn., 40.) The conductor of the coal train was only defendant's servant for a special purpose.

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(Stow v. Wyse, 7 Conn., 219; New World v. King, 16 How. [[U. S.], 469; Abb. on Ship., 124, 125, marg.; City Bk. v. Nav. Co., 2 Story, 46; Reynolds v. Tappan, 15 Mass., 370; Walter v. Brewer, 11 Id., 99; Haack v. Fearing, 35 How., 459; Satterlee v. Groat, 1 Wend., 572; Merritt v. Walsh, 32 N.Y. 685; Johnson v. Concord Co., 46 N. H., 213; Thurman v. Wells, 18 Barb., 516.) The conductor being a special agent plaintiff acted at his own peril, and was bound to inquire into the nature and extent of his authority. (Story on Ag., § 133; Snow v. Perry, 9 Pick., 542; Fisher v. Campbell, 9 Porter, 210; Schimmelpennich v. Bayard, 1 Pet., 290; Thurman v. Wells, 18 Barb., 518, 519; Sage v. Sherman, Lalor's Sup., 150; Adriance v. Roome, 52 Barb., 399; Dabney v. Stivens, 46 How., 346; Johnson v. Concord Co., 46 N. H., 213, 220.) The fact that plaintiff did not pay fare is material. (Robertson v. Erie Co., 22 Barb., 91.) Plaintiff was on defendant's train without its consent; it owed him no duty, and was guilty of no negligence toward him. (Wilkinson v. Fairril, 32 L. J., 73; Zoebisch v. Tarbell, 10 Al., 385; Cox v. Market Co., 9 Am. L. Reg. [ N. S.], 103; Gillis v. Pa. R. R. Co., 8 Id., 729; Barker v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 24 N.Y. 599; Nicholson v. Erie R. Co., 41 Id., 330; Munger v. Ton. Co., 4 Id., 349; Roulston v. Clark, 3 E. D. S., 366; Terry v. N.Y. C. Co., 22 Barb., 574; Blythe v. Topham, Cro. Jac., 158; Howland v. Vincent, 10 Met., 371; Bush v. Brainerd, 1 Cow., 78; Carroll v. N. H. Co., 1 Duer, 571; 5 Den., 267; 22 Barb., 574; Morse v. A. and S. Co., 10 Id., 621.)

Frederic A. Ward for the respondent. Plaintiff was lawfully upon defendant's train, and it was its duty to transport him with due care and skill. (Edgerton v. N.Y. and H. R. R. Co., 39 N.Y. 227; Nolton v. West. R. R. Co., 15 Id., 447, 449; Bissell v. M. S. R. R. Co., 22 Id., 307; Perkins v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 24 Id., 200; Nicholson v. Erie R. Co., 41 Id., 525; Coggs v. Bernard, Ld. Ray., 909.) The fact that plaintiff was riding gratuitously does not alter the case.

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(Wells v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 24 N.Y. 193; P. and R. R. R. Co. v. Derby, 14 How. [U. S.], 468; Lovett v. Salem R. R. Co., 9 Al., 557; Thomas v. Winchester, 2 Seld., 401, 404, 409; Perkins v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 24 N.Y. 200; Nolton v. West. R. R. Co., 15 Id., 444.) Had plaintiff been a trespasser he would have had a right to be protected from a reckless exposure of his life to danger. (Sawyer v. Jackson, 5 N.Y. L. O., 380; Johnson v. Patterson, 14 Conn., 1; Paige v. Gardiner, 19 Id., 507; Bird v. Holbrook, 4 Bing., 628; Lynch v. Hardin, 1 Ad. & E. [ N. S.], 30; Daly v. N. and W. R. R. Co., 26 Conn., 591; Thomas v. Winchester, 2 Seld., 401.) The conductor of a train of cars is invested with general authority and discretion, and his acts bind his employers. (Clark v. Eighth Ave. R. R. Co., 36 N.Y. 135; Carroll v. N.Y. and N. H. R. R. Co., 1 Duer, 580; Stbt. New World v. King, 16 How., 469.) The acts of the conductor were merely negligent, and for such acts an employer is always liable. (Isaacs v. Third Ave. R. R. Co., 47 N.Y. 126; Lack. R. R. Co. v. Chenewith, 52 Penn., 383; Weed v. Pan. R. R. Co., 17 N.Y. 368; Sanford v. Eighth Ave. R. R. Co., 23 Id., 346; P. and R. R. R. Co. v. Derby, 14 How., 468; Carrol v. N.Y. and N. H. R. R. Co., 1 Duer, 580; Spooner v. Bklyn. City R. R. Co., September, 1873.) Defendant's regulation prohibiting passengers from riding on coal trains not having been communicated to plaintiff is no defence. (L. and M. R. R. Co. v. Montgomery, 7 Ind., 476; Zemp v. W. and M. R. R. Co., 9 Rich. [ S. C.], 84; Perkins v. N.Y. C. R. R. Co., 24 N.Y. 201; Clark v. Eighth Ave. R. R. Co., 36 Id., 135; Penn. R. R. Co. v. McCloskey, 23 Penn., 532; Carrol v. N.Y. and N. H. R. R. Co., 1 Duer, 579; P. and R. R. R. Co. v. Derby, 14 How., 468; Sleath v. Wilson, 9 C. & P., 607; Hadencamp v. Second Ave. R. R. Co., 1 Swe., 500; Dunn v. G. T. R. Co., 58 Me., 187; Shear. on Neg., 324; 19 Wend., 234.)

DWIGHT, C.

The real inquiry in the present action is, whether, under the circumstances of the case, the relation of

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common carrier and passenger existed between the plaintiff and defendant. If that can be established, it is plain that the negligence of the conductor was such as to make the defendant liable for the plaintiff's injuries. It must, however, appear that the defendant was under a duty to the plaintiff to exercise care toward him. That duty can only spring up from acts of the conductor causing the relation of common carrier and passenger to exist between the parties. It is now well settled that liability in such cases is to be derived from a pre-existing duty or obligation on the part of the principal. In that case the negligence of the servant whom he employs to discharge the duty or obligation is imputable to himself, so as to render him responsible. (Smith v. Dock Company, L. R. [3 C. P.], 326; Collis v. Selden, Id., 495; Nicholson v. Erie Railway Company, 41 N.Y. 525, and cases cited in opinion of EARL, Ch. J.)

The solution of the questions at issue is not to be sought in the rules of law appertaining to common carriers. It must be obtained from the principles of the law of agency. The true inquiry is, whether the conductor, as an agent of the defendant, had the power to take the plaintiff upon the train...

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