Alabama Great Southern R. Co. v. McFarlin

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtSIMPSON, J.
Citation56 So. 989,174 Ala. 637
Decision Date16 November 1911

56 So. 989

174 Ala. 637


Supreme Court of Alabama

November 16, 1911

Rehearing Denied Dec. 21, 1911.

Appeal from City Court of Birmingham; Charles A. Senn, Judge.

Action by Mrs. Alice McFarlin, administratrix of Reuben W. McFarlin, deceased, against the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company, for death of intestate. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Anderson and Mayfield, JJ., dissenting.

The facts sufficiently appear in the opinion of the court, taken in connection with the dissenting opinion. The following charges were refused to defendant: (1) General charge for the defendant. (3) Affirmative charge for defendant as to the second count. (4) "The court charges the jury that in your sound discretion you may impose merely nominal damages, if you believe from the evidence that the death of Reuben McFarlir was caused by negligence so slight, or so characterized by mitigating circumstances, as that the jury would be justified in the imposition of such punishment only as is involved in the assessment of merely nominal damages." (5) "The court charges the jury that if you believe from the evidence that the negligence complained of is so slight, or so characterized by mitigating circumstances, as that the jury would be justified in the imposition of such punishment only as is involved in the assessment of merely nominal damages, you may impose such damages, if you believe from the evidence that plaintiff is entitled to a verdict." (6) "If you believe from all the evidence in this case that the agents or servants of the defendant in charge of its train that struck Reuben McFarlin did all in their power to stop the train after the discovery of his peril, then you must find a verdict for the defendant." (7) "If you should believe from all the evidence that the train of the defendant was moving at the speed of from 3 to 18 miles an hour at the time of the accident, that the red flag was being waved by the crossing watchman, that the conductor of the train was walking in front of or at the side and near the front end of the car which first came across the crossing, and that the deceased, Reuben McFarlin, went upon the track in front of and in dangerous proximity to said car, and that as soon as the conductor realized the danger of the deceased he called to deceased and gave the engineer the stop signal, and that the engineer immediately used all the means at hand known to skillful engineers to stop said train, then you must find a verdict for the railroad company."

A. G. and E. D. Smith, for appellant.

Harsh, Beddow & Fitts, for appellee.


This is an action by the appellee for damages on account of the death of plaintiff's intestate (who was her husband), claimed to have been the result of the employé of defendant in charge or control of an engine wantonly or intentionally causing or allowing said engine to run upon or against said intestate. There was also a count on simple negligence, which was charged out, on account of contributory negligence.

The appellant claims that the general charge should have been given in favor of the defendant, first, because the evidence failed to show willful or wanton conduct.

There was evidence tending to show that the place where the intestate was killed was in a populous district, where the public are wont to cross with such frequency and in such numbers within the knowledge of the conductor and engineer as to charge them with knowledge of the probable consequences of maintaining a high rate of speed at such place without signals of approach. Highland Ave. & Belt R. v. Robbins, 124 Ala. 114, 116, 27 So. 422, 82 Am. St. Rep. 153; Ala. Gt. So. R. R. Co v. Guest, 144 Ala. 373, 380, 39 So. 654; Ala. Gt. So. R. R. Co. v. Guest, 136 Ala. 353, 34 So. 968; B. R. L. & P. Co. v. Ryan, 148 Ala. 69, 76, 41 So. 616. We cannot say as a matter of law that the train did not approach the crossing in such a manner as to constitute wantonness. The evidence is in conflict as to the speed at which the train was moving. There is evidence tending to show that no signals of approach were given save the waving of the red flag, and there is no proof that the meaning of the waving of the flag was known or made known to the intestate, or that it was known by the public generally. Even if the falling of the intestate could be considered as an efficient intervening cause, the evidence is in conflict as to whether or not he did fall. The question as to whether the servants of defendant were guilty of wanton conduct was, under all the circumstances of this case, a matter for the jury to consider. Consequently there was no error in the refusal to give the general charge, as requested by the defendant, being charges 1 and 3.

It is next insisted that there is a variance between the allegation of the complaint that the servant of defendant "caused or allowed said engine to run upon or against said intestate" and the proof that it was one of the cars attached to the engine which ran against him, and not the engine itself. So far as the rights and liabilities of the parties are concerned, it is immaterial whether the engine or the car ran against the intestate. The engine was the instrument which caused the collision, and, whether the intestate was struck by the engine itself or by something attached to the engine, it was the engine which caused the death, and, if there was negligence or wantonness in any one, it was in the management of the engine. We do not find anything in our reports contrary to this holding. The case of Smith v. Causey, 28 Ala. 655, 658, 65 Am. Dec. 372, was an action under a "highly penal statute" (see s. c. 22 Ala. 570), and the court held that the averment that the injury was done by the dogs of the defendant was descriptive of the tort complained of, and there could be no recovery on proof of injury by other dogs. This court has said that, "where a variance in the allegations and proof is relied on to defeat an action, such variance must be of a material or essential fact" (Peck, Adm'r, v. Ashurst, 108 Ala. 438, 19 So. 784); also that "an exact correspondence of allegation and proof is not required. It is enough that the one substantially corresponds with the other." Wilson v. Smith, 111 Ala. 176, 20 So. 136.

In the case of North Birmingham Street Railway v. Calderwood, 89 Ala. 247, 253, 254, 7 So. 360, 18 Am. St. Rep. 105, the variance was material, because the liability of the defendant under the law was different according as the stopping of the car was on the east side or the west; one being the lawful stopping place and the other not. In the case of Pryor v. L. & N. R. R. Co., 90 Ala. 32, 35, 8 So. 55, the court say: "As the company was not under the same rule of duty to keep in good repair the road bed on the outside of the rails as on the inside and between the rails, * * * we incline to the opinion that there was a fatal variance between the allegations of the complaint and the proof," and the case was decided on other points without regard to the variance. In the case of Western Railway of Alabama v. Sistrunk, 85 Ala. 352, 357, 5 So. 79, 81, it was held that proof of the injury at a different time and place (that is, "between the 16th and 20th of September," in place of "on the 20th," and "within 150 yards of said station," in place of " within 75 or 100 yards") did not constitute a material variance. In the case of Hood v. Pioneer M. & Mfg. Co., 95 Ala. 461, 11 So. 10, [56 So. 991]

the proof showed the plaintiff to be in an entirely different position from that alleged in the complaint when injured; and the case was not reversed on this

The same is true as to the case of Birmingham Electric Co. v. Brannen, Adm'r, 132 Ala. 431, 433, 31 So. 524; and the court merely says: "To say the least it would be well for the complaint to be amended in this connection." In the case of Ala. Gt. So. R. R. Co. v. Fulton, 150 Ala. 300, 305, 43 So. 832, while the court remarks that there was a variance between the allegation that the noises were made while the engine was approaching the crossing, and the proof that they were not made until after it had passed the crossing and was returning after being reversed, in the direction of the plaintiff, yet it goes on to place the decision on other grounds. In the case of Ala. Gt. Sou. R. R. Co. v. McWhorter, 156 Ala. 269, 280, 47 So. 84, the material variance was between alleging that the intestate was in the discharge of his duty and the proof placing him in a position not discharging his duty. Even in criminal cases there are a number of decisions to the effect that proof of killing by another weapon of substantially the same kind as that alleged in the indictment does not constitute a variance. Hull v. State, 79 Ala. 32; Turner v. State, 97 Ala. 57, 12 So. 54; Jones v. State, 137 Ala. 13, 34 So. 681; Taylor v. State, 148 Ala. 565, 42 So. 997. We hold that there was not such a variance as to call for the giving of the general charge in favor of the defendant.

On this proposition DOWDELL, C.J., and McCLELLAN, SAYRE, and SOMERVILLE, JJ., concur, and ANDERSON and MAYFIELD, JJ., dissent.

Charges 4 and 5 are argumentative, and were properly refused. At any rate, these charges refer to simple negligence, which was eliminated from the case.

Charge 6 omits all reference to the manner in which the train approached the crossing, and was properly refused.

Charge 7 does not state what was meant by the waving of the red flag, nor whether it was understood by the intestate or the public, nor does it state whether the calling of the conductor to the intestate was at such a distance or under such circumstances as to be heard by the intestate, and it was properly...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 cases
  • Anderson v. State, 6 Div. 481.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • November 2, 1922
    ...and exception thereto, or a refusal of the court to rule on the question presented by the objection. A. G. S. R. R. Co. v. McFarlin, 174 Ala. 637, 647, 50 So. 989; Cross v. State, 68 Ala. 476; Johnson v. State, 152 Ala. 46, 44 So. 670; Ala. Steel & Wire Co. v. Sells, 168 Ala. 547, 52 So. 92......
  • Mobile Light & R. Co. v. Portiss, 1 Div. 864
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • November 11, 1915
    ...P. Co. v. Hinton et al., 141 Ala. 606, 37 So. 635; Mobile Light & R.R. Co. v. Baker, 158 Ala. 491, 48 So. 119; A.G.S.R.R. Co. v. McFarlin, 174 Ala. 637, 56 So. 989. It is clear from the testimony that the car was proceeding at a high rate of speed along the public street, plaintiff's witnes......
  • Southern Ry. Co. v. Randle, 6 Div. 576.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 1, 1930
    ...Southern Ry. Co. v. Fricks, 196 Ala. 61, 71 So. 701; A. G. S. R. Co. v. Russey, 190 Ala. 239, 67 So. 445; A. G. S. R. Co. v. McFarlin, 174 Ala. 637, 56 So. 989. The charges correctly stated the law without predicating a verdict for defendant thereon under the facts hypothesized. In Scott's ......
  • Birmingham Elec. Co. v. Perkins, 6 Div. 605.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • July 31, 1947
    ...the statement was excluded. Of such favorable rulings the defendant cannot complain here. Alabama Great Southern Railway Co. v. McFarlin, 174 Ala. 637, 56 So. 989. But if the remarks of counsel were so grossly improper and highly prejudicial that the wrong done was beyond remedy through act......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT