Birmingham Ry., Light & Power Co. v. Cockrum

Citation60 So. 304,179 Ala. 372
Decision Date05 December 1912
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

60 So. 304

179 Ala. 372


Supreme Court of Alabama

December 5, 1912

Appeal from Circuit Court, Jefferson County; E. C. Crow, Judge.

Action by Nannie C. Cockrum against the Birmingham Railway, Light & Power Company. From a judgment for plaintiff, defendant appeals. Reversed and remanded.

The following are the counts discussed in the complaint: (2) Wantonly or willfully or intentionally causing a wire to be heavily charged with electricity, with the knowledge that plaintiff would probably be injured thereby, and with reckless disregard of the consequences. (3) "Plaintiff claims of the defendant, a body corporate, doing business as a street railway company in Jefferson county, Alabama, the sum of $50,000 as damages, for that on, to wit, August 10th, plaintiff, while in the city of Birmingham, between Alley B of said city and that German-Lutheran Church which is on the southeast corner of Avenue B and Nineteenth Street South, in said city, at a place where she had a right to be, and was not a trespasser was severely shocked by coming in contact with a wire heavily charged with electricity. [Here follows a catalogue of injuries and damages.] Plaintiff avers said injuries were proximately caused by the negligence of defendant's servants or agents while acting within the line and scope of their employment, which negligence consisted in this: The servants or agents aforesaid negligently caused the wire aforesaid to be heavily charged with electricity." (4) Same as 3, except that wanton, willful, or intentional negligence is charged. (5 and 6) Allege the same facts as 3, and rely for negligence on the violation of the following ordinance:

"Section 369. Guard Irons.--Where angles occur in the lines, subjecting the supports to increased strains, guard irons must be placed at the outer ends of the cross-arms. Guard wires must also be placed whenever their presence will prevent telephone, telegraph, or other wires from coming into accidental contact with an electric light and trolley wires for the street railroad. Whenever it is necessary for electric light, power, or trolley wires to be run under telegraph, telephone, or fire alarm wires, permission shall be granted to do so; but the company running such wire or wires shall pay the expense of raising the other wires, if lawfully constructed, so that the said wires shall not be less than five feet above said electric light, power, or trolley wire, to make them entirely safe. Whenever any telegraph or telephone company wishes to stretch wires above any electric light, power, or trolley wires, they must cross not less than five feet above said wires. The guard wire above each trolley wire must consist of two wires not less than ten gauge and be tightly strung not less than two feet above said trolley wire, and twelve inches on each side; but when strung on poles, center street connection, one guard wire shall suffice. The cost of such guard wire and guard iron and change of poles shall be borne by the person or company making the last construction."

The following is charge 20: "If the jury believe from the evidence in this case that plaintiff's husband, Charles C. Cockrum, has made a contradictory statement as to any material facts in evidence in this case, the jury may consider such contradictory statement in determining what weight they will give the testimony of said Charles C. Cockrum."

Tillman, Bradley & Morrow and L. C. Leadbeater, all of Birmingham, for appellant.

Denson & Denson, of Birmingham, for appellee.


It has been repeatedly held by this court that, notwithstanding negligence may be charged in most general terms, this rule does not relieve the plaintiff from bringing himself within the protection of the negligence charged by averring the facts showing the relationship of the parties and from which the duty springs. L. & N. R. R. Co. v. Holland, 164 Ala. 73, 51 So. 365, 137 Am. St. Rep. 25; Sloss-Sheffield Co. v. Bibb, 164 Ala. 62, 51 So. 345.

We think, however, that count 3 meets these requirements by showing that the plaintiff was not a trespasser upon the defendant's property, and that she was in a position to invoke the simple negligence as charged in said count. Indeed, so long as the count showed that the plaintiff was anywhere except upon the defendant's property or did not collide therewith at a point where she would be a trespasser, she is protected as against the simple negligence of the defendant without having to set up whether she was or was not rightfully upon the property of one other than the defendant. Count 3, however, avers that plaintiff was not a trespasser and was at a place where she had a right to be, and if this was a necessary averment, which was not the case, and was faulty as a mere conclusion of the pleader, the point was not taken by any ground of demurrer. It is true, we have a line of cases holding that a complaint charging simple negligence is demurrable unless it shows that the plaintiff was entitled to recover for simple negligence by showing that he was not a trespasser and that the defendant owed him the duty of not negligently injuring him; but those cases applied to counts which showed that the plaintiff was upon the track or premises of the defendant. So too does the case of A. G. S. R. R. Co. v. Godfrey, 156 Ala. 202, 47 So. 185, 130 Am. St. Rep. 76, make a distinction between the duty owing what is termed a "bare licensee" and one who is upon the defendant's premises by invitation; but that rule applies to injuries arising upon the premises of the defendant, and not upon a public place or the premises of one other than the defendant. It has been held by the New Jersey court, and we think properly so, that a plaintiff was entitled to recover for injuries resulting from the simple negligence of a telephone company unless he was a trespasser as against the company. If the plaintiff was injured upon the premises of one other than the defendant, it mattered not whether he was a licensee or a trespasser. "If he was a bare licensee, he would still be there lawfully. If a trespasser, his wrong would be to the landowner alone, not a public wrong, nor a wrong to the defendant." Guinn v. Delaware & A. Tel. Co., 72 N. J. Law, 276, 62 A. 412, 3 L. R. A. (N. S.) 988. Of course, the point of the injury would have considerable bearing upon the degree of care that is due the public and in determining whether or not the defendant was guilty of negligence; but it is liable for all injuries resulting from its simple negligence to persons who are not trespassers upon its property or premises. The trial court did not err in overruling the demurrers to count 3 of the complaint.

Counts 5 and 6 of the complaint are predicated upon the violation of a city ordinance requiring guard wires and whether said counts were or were not subject to demurrer matters not, for the reason that the general charge, as...

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53 cases
  • J. H. Burton & Sons Co. v. May
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 22, 1925
    ......658, 86 So. 541; B.R., L. & P. Co. v. Cockrum, 179 Ala. 372, 60 So. 304; A.F. &. S.F.R. Co. v. Rice, ... proximate cause. Alabama Power Co. v. Stogner, 208. Ala. 666, 95 So. 151. That is, the ... application. Central Ry. & Banking Co. v. Letcher, . 69 Ala. 100, 44 Am.Rep. 505; ...Co. v. Arnold, 80 Ala. 600, 2 So. 337; Birmingham Union Ry. Co. v. Alexander, 93 Ala. 133, 9 So. 525. . . In. Mobile Light, etc., Co. v. Walsh, 146 Ala. 295, 40. So. 559, 9 ......
  • Atchley v. Tennessee Valley Authority
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • February 6, 1947
    ...of any action on the part of the defendant which could properly be described as willful or wanton. Cf. Birmingham Ry., Light & Power Co. v. Cockrum, 1912, 179 Ala. 372, 60 So. 304. But in any event the rule establishing the immunity of an agency of the Federal Government from liability in a......
  • Boyette v. Bradley
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 29, 1924
    ......S. Pevear,. as coreceivers of the Birmingham Railway, Light & Power. Company, to recover damages for ...Cent. R. R. Co., 67 Ala. 533; Ga. Pac. Ry. Co. v. O'Shields, 90 Ala. 29, 8 So. 248; A. G. S. R. R. ... 524, 76 So. 850, and B. R. L. & P. Co. v. Cockrum, . 179 Ala. 372, 60 So. 304. . . It may. ......
  • Williams v. Springfield Gas & Electric Company
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 29, 1918
    ......Distilling Co., 90 Mo. 284;. Curley v. Mo. Pac. Ry., 98 Mo. l. c. 17;. Rushenberg v. Railway, 109 Mo. 112; ...Fuchs v. St. Louis, 167 Mo. 647; Luehrmann v. Light Co., 127. Mo.App. 213; Brubaker v. Light Co., 130 Mo.App. ... furnished light and power and that wires were used for the. transmission; that ...Power Co., 96 Wash. 386, 165 P. 87;. Birmingham Ry., L. & P. Co. v. Cockrum, 179 Ala. 372, 60 So. 304; ......
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