Bassett v. Crisp

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Citation113 Cal.App.2d 295,248 P.2d 171
Decision Date26 September 1952
PartiesBASSETT v. CRISP. Civ. 8133.

Page 171

248 P.2d 171
113 Cal.App.2d 295

Civ. 8133.
District Court of Appeal, Third District, California.
Sept. 26, 1952.

Page 172

[113 Cal.App.2d 298] Vernon F. Gant, Modesto, D. Oliver Germino, Los Banos, for appellant.

C. Ray Robinson by R. A. McCormick and Wm. B. Boone, Merced, for respondent.


Plaintiff, a guest in an automobile driven by defendant Charles B. Crisp, claimed injury resulting from the alleged misconduct of defendant. Upon trial the jury rendered a verdict in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the sum of $45,000, and defendant has appealed from the judgment entered upon said verdict. Defendant has also appealed from the order denying his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

The first and principal contention of appellant is that the evidence is wholly insufficient to sustain a finding of wilful misconduct. Before proceeding to discuss this contention we shall quote the well settled rule so aptly expressed in Juchert v. California Water Service Co., 16 Cal.2d

Page 173

500, at page 503, 106 P.2d 886, 888 as follows:

'As is always true on such appeals, all conflicts must be resolved in favor of the respondent, and all legitimate and reasonable inferences must be indulged in to uphold the verdict, if possible. It is elementary that when a verdict is attacked as being unsupported, the power of the appellate court begins and ends with a determination as to whether there is any substantial evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, which will support the conclusion reached by the jury. And when two or more inferences can reasonably be deduced from the facts, the reviewing court is without power to substitute its deductions for those of the jury or trial court. Crawford v. Southern Pac. Co., 3 Cal.2d 427, 45 P.2d 183; Treadwell v. Nichel, [Nickel] 194 Cal. 243, 228 P. 25; Bancroft-Whitney Co. v. McHugh, 166 Cal. 140, 134 P. 1157; Wing v. Kishi, 92 Cal.App. 495, 268 P. 483.'

Bearing this familiar rule in mind we shall summarize briefly the factual situation as disclosed by the record.

The accident occurred on January 12, 1950, at about 6:00 or 6:30 p. m., at the intersection of East Charter Way and South San Joaquin Streets in Stockton. It involved the 1941 Cadillac sedan owned and operated by defendant-appellant, Charles B. Crisp, and a 1941 Ford coupe operated by [113 Cal.App.2d 299] Mrs. Gladys Curry. Respondent Bassett was an admitted guest in appellant's car, riding on the right side of the rear seat. Other guests in appellant's vehicle were Dr. Jeremiah J. Wolohan in the middle of the front seat, Bobby J. Vander Griff on the right side of the front seat, and one Arthur Pierce on the left side of the rear seat. The intersection is controlled by the standard three color electric signal, one such traffic light being posted at each of the four corners of the intersection. Appellant concedes that he drove into the intersection through the red light. Mrs. Curry, who was driving in a northerly direction on South San Joaquin Street, testified that as she was about one-half block away from the intersection, the lights facing her turned green and were still green when she drove into the intersection; her Ford struck the right side of appellant's Cadillac, which was proceeding in an easterly direction on East Charter Way.

Earlier that day the group went to Stockton to ride in a boat owned by Dr. Wolohan, and kept by him in the Stockton harbor. Dr. Wolohan drove his own car to respondent's residence in Winton and the two proceeded in the Wolohan car to defendant's home in Delhi. Then all three went in defendant's Cadillac to Livingston where they picked up Mr. Pierce, and then they went to Modesto where Mr. Vander Griff joined them. Appellant Crisp then drove the group to Stockton in his vehicle, arriving at about 2:00 or 3:00 p. m. After several hours in the boat, the group started home some time between 5:00 and 6:00 p. m. in Grisp's automobile, with Crisp driving. They were seated as previously described, with plaintiff on the side which was struck.

Respondent testified that at one red light he said to appellant as he was driving through the intersection, 'Charlie, you got a red one there.' There was testimony that at another red light, Dr. Wolohan warned appellant, 'we don't want any more red lights.' Mr. Pierce testified, by deposition, that he remembered that someone in the car had warned appellant about going through a red light just prior to the accident. Mrs. Curry testified that after the accident she rode to the hospital in an ambulance with Dr. Wolohan and appellant, and that during the trip the doctor said to appellant, 'I saw that light was red and I warned you,' and that appellant responded, 'I didn't see it in time.' Respondent also testified that just before the collision he saw the traffic signal and said, 'My God, another red light.' There is also testimony by Dr. Wolohan and appellant, estimating[113 Cal.App.2d 300] that at the time of the collision appellant was traveling about 30 miles per hour; respondent's testimony was that 'we was traveling pretty fast.' Plaintiff testified that the force of the collision knocked him all over the car, and that when he stopped bouncing he was on one knee with his toe in the seat and his arm on the back of the front seat.

Page 174

Appellant in his briefs quotes testimony which may be deemed to contradict some of the material parts of the foregoing summary of the evidence, but we are not here concerned with the matter of weighing conflicts in testimony. Taking all of the evidence into consideration, together with every inference and presumption favorable to respondent which may reasonably be deduced therefrom, and disregarding all evidence in conflict therewith, the evidence is fairly susceptible of the construction that on a city street, on a night that was dark, and when the traffic was heavy, the appellant drove through at least four red traffic lights within the last 10 or 12 blocks immediately preceding the collision, that he was warned about it several times, that his rate of speed was about 30 miles per hour and that he drove into the intersection at which the collision occurred against the red light without looking for traffic approaching the intersection with the green light.

In the case of Allen v. Robinson, 85 Cal.App.2d 617, 193 P.2d 498, this court held that in an action for injuries received by plaintiffs in an automobile collision while riding as guests of defendant, the evidence supported a verdict attributing plaintiffs' injuries to defendant's wilful misconduct, where it appeared that defendant drove across town at a high rate of speed, ignored repeated admonitions to slow down, and entered an intersection at about 35 miles per hour in disregard of a plainly visible stop sign. We there said, 85 Cal.App.2d at pages 620-622, 193 P.2d at page 500:

'A definition on 'wilful misconduct,' followed and approved in many later cases, is contained in Turner v. Standard Oil Co., 134 Cal.App. 622, 626, 25 P.2d 988, 990, as follows:

"'Wilful misconduct,' within the meaning of this statute, may then be defined as intentionally doing something in the operation of a motor vehicle which should not be done or intentionally failing to do something that should be done under circumstances disclosing knowledge, express or to be implied, that an injury to a guest will be a probable result.'

'This court adopted the same definition in Hagglund v. Nelson, 23 Cal.App.2d 348, 352, 73 P.2d 265, and a hearing [113 Cal.App.2d 301] in the Supreme Corut was denied. In that case Norton v. Puter, 138 Cal.App. 253, 258, 32 P.2d 172, 174, in which the Supreme Court denied a hearing, was quoted as follows:

"Willful misconduct depends upon the facts of a particular case, and necessarily involves deliberate, intentional, or wanton conduct in doing or omitting to perform acts, with knowledge or appreciation of the fact, on the part of the culpable person, that danger is likely to result therefrom.' (Italics added.)

'In Bechtold v. Bishop & Co., Inc., 16 Cal.2d 285, 105 P.2d 984, failure to stop at a stop sign was held to constitute wilful misconduct. Also, a disregard of stop signs and speed were deemed to constitute 'wilful misconduct' in Gibson v. Easley, 138 Cal.App. 303, 32 P.2d 983, where, as here, the driver was earnestly admonished by his guest to drive more slowly. Speed and disregard of stop signs were also held 'wilful misconduct' in Browne v. Fernandez, 140 Cal.App. 689, at page 697, 36 P.2d 122, 126, in which Justice Spence in his concurring opinion (hearing in Supreme Court denied by a divided court) said:

"Disregarding conflicts, there was evidence in this case to show that despite the admonition of his guests, appellant Mabie disregarded the stop sign, proceeded into the...

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  • People v. Fitzpatrick
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • June 10, 1976 leave an aura of failure for the one who called him. (See People v. Le Beau, 39 Cal.2d 146, 149, 245 P.2d 302; Bassett v. Crisp, 113 Cal.App.2d 295, 306, 248 P.2d 171; People v. Spinosa, 115 Cal.App.2d 659, 667, 252 P.2d Page 33 But in the present case, we do not believe it necessary to ......
  • Shehtanian v. Kenny
    • United States
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    ...for the purpose of microscopically critical appraisal (In re Estate of Volen, 121 Cal.App.2d 161, 164, 262 P.2d 658; Bassett v. Crisp, 113 Cal.App.2d 295, 306, 248 P.2d 171). Viewed in the light of this rule, the instructions were proper. If minor error is shown in one instruction it is not......
  • People v. Southern Pacific Co.
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    ...instruction misstates the applicable law, but rather whether the instructions as a whole misguided the jury. (Bassett v. Crisp (1952) 113 Cal.App.2d 295, 306, 248 P.2d 171; Blackmore v. Brennan (1941) 43 Cal.App.2d 280, 287, 110 P.2d 723.) The trial judge gave an adaptation of BAJI No. 2.60......
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    ...instruction misstates the applicable law, but rather whether the instructions as a whole misguided the jury. (Bassett v. Crisp (1952) 113 Cal.App.2d 295, 306, 248 P.2d 171; Blackmore v. Brennan (1941) 43 Cal.App.2d 280, 287, 110 P.2d 723.) The trial judge gave an adaptation of BAJI No. 2.60......
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