Bacon v. Boston Elevated Ry. Co.

Decision Date27 May 1926
Citation256 Mass. 30,152 N.E. 35
PartiesBACON v. BOSTON ELEVATED RY. CO. (two cases).
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Report from Superior Court, Suffolk County; Joseph Walsh, Judge.

Separate actions in tort by Alice Willard Bacon and by Walter O. Bacon against the Boston Elevated Railway Company, to recover for personal injury and for damage to an automobile in collision with defendant's electric car. Verdicts were directed for defendant in each case, and the cases were reported. Judgment for defendant on the verdicts.F. R. Mullin, of Boston (P. F. Spain, of Boston, on the brief), for plaintiffs.

J. I. Krafsur, of Boston, for defendant.

CROSBY, J.

These are two actions to recover for personal injuries, and for damage to an automobile which was in collision with an electric car of the defendant on October 4, 1923. At the time of the collision the plaintiff in the first case was operating the automobile, and her husband (the plaintiff in the second case) was riding with her. There was evidence from which the jury might have found that the plaintiffs were in the exercise of due care and that the defendant's motorman was negligent.

The automobile was owned by the plaintiff in the first case, and in 1923 was registered in the name of Alice W. Willard-her maiden name. She testified in substance that she was married in 1921; that she was not engaged in business of any kind; that she was known to her friends and generally as Alice W. Bacon; that she applied for and received a license to operate the automobile in the name of Alice W. Bacon, which she knew to be her legal name; that whatever business she transacted after her marriage to Mr. Bacon to the time of the accident was in that name; that when she was asked her name she gave it as Alice W. Bacon; that when she applied for registration of the automobile in 1923 she did so in a name that was not hers; that she paid an income tax in the name of Alice W. Bacon; and that she renewed her operator's license in the same name.

[2] As matter of law, after her marriage in 1921, her legal name was Alice W. Bacon. See G. L. c. 208, § 23; Chapman v. Phoenix National Bank of New York, 85 N. Y. 437, 449. The statute, G. L. c. 90, § 2, contemplates that a motor vehicle shall be registered in the name of its owner. Fairbanks v. Kemp, 226 Mass. 75, 78, 115 N. E. 240. It is manifest from the uncontradicted evidence that at the time of the accident the automobile was not legally registered and was a nuisance upon the highway, which precludes recovery by the owner. Gould v. Elder, 219 Mass. 396, 107 N. E. 59;Pierce v. Hutchinson, 241 Mass. 557, 136 N. E. 261;McDonald v. Dundon, 242 Mass. 229, 136 N. E. 264, 26 A. L. R. 1243;Nichols v. Holyoke Street Railway, 250 Mass. 88, 145 N. E. 33. It was held in Crompton v. Williams, 216 Mass. 184, 103 N. E. 298, that for the owner of a motor truck to register it in a tradename, under which he had carried on business for many years and by which name he was well known in the community, was a compliance with the statute, in the absence of evidence that such name was adopted to conceal identity. That decision is not pertinent to the facts in the case at bar. The trial judge rightly directed a verdict for the defendant.

[3] In the second case, it is the contention of the plaintiff that even if the automobile was not legally registered, he is entitled to recover. He relies on G. L. c. 90, § 9, which provides in part that:

‘No person shall operate any motor vehicle * * * unless such vehicle is registered in accordance with this chapter, * * * but violation of this section shall not constitute a defense to actions of tort for injuries suffered by a person * * * unless it is shown that the person injured * * * knew or had reasonable cause to know that this section was being violated.’

The trial judge ruled as matter of law that upon all the evidence the plaintiff at the time of the accident knew or had ‘reasonable ground to believe or know’ that the automobile was registered in the name of Alice W. Willard.

The plaintiff testified that he had an operator's license; that at various times he had driven the automobile in...

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22 cases
  • Secretary of Com. v. City Clerk of Lowell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • August 4, 1977
    ...might have been read to limit the common law principle of free choice in the matter of name. Indeed, in Bacon v. Boston Elevated Ry., 256 Mass. 30, 32, 152 N.E. 35 (1926), we relied on G.L. c. 208, § 23, for the proposition that after Alice W. Willard married Walter O. Bacon her "legal name......
  • Reben, In re
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • July 18, 1975
    ...v. McMurphy, 1935, 26 Ala.App. 549, 163 So. 533; Carlton v. Phelan, 1930, 100 Fla. 1164, 131 So. 117; Bacon v. Boston Elevated Ry. Co., 1926, 256 Mass. 30, 152 N.E. 35, 47 A.L.R. 1100: Kidd v. Rasmus, 1955, Tex.Civ.App., 285 S.W.2d 415; Petition of Hauptly, 1974, Ind., 312 N.E.2d The New Yo......
  • Nash v. Lang
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • September 16, 1929
    ...444. It bears no resemblance to cases like Nichols v. Holyoke Street Railway, 250 Mass. 88, 145 N. E. 33,Bacon v. Boston Elevated Railway, 256 Mass. 30, 152 N. E. 35, 47 A. L. R. 1100,Wallace v. New Bedford & Onset Street Railway, 259 Mass. 20, 155 N. E. 660, and Di Franco v. West Boston Ga......
  • Lawrence, Application of
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • April 2, 1975
    ...174 Ohio St. 333, 189 N.E.2d 62 (Sup.Ct.1963); Kidd v. Rasmus, 285 S.W.2d 415 (Tex.Ct.Civ.App.1955); Cf. Bacon v. Boston Elevated Ry. Co., 256 Mass. 30, 152 N.E. 35 (Sup.Jud.Ct.1926). In a number of other opinions married women who have assumed their husbands' surnames have been denied voti......
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