Bohn v. Hudson & M. R. Co., No. A-3

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtBURLING
Citation16 N.J. 180,108 A.2d 5
Docket NumberNo. A-3
Decision Date27 September 1954
PartiesFlorence A. BOHN and Edward A. Bohn, Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. HUDSON & MANHATTAN R. CO., a corporation of the State of New Jersey, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 180

16 N.J. 180
108 A.2d 5
Florence A. BOHN and Edward A. Bohn, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
HUDSON & MANHATTAN R. CO., a corporation of the State of New
Jersey, Defendant-Appellant.
No. A-3.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Sept. 8, 1954.
Decided Sept. 27, 1954.

[108 A.2d 7] Arthur J. Blake, Jersey City, for appellant (Emory, Langan & Lamb, Jersey City, attorneys).

Hyman Tobin, Bayonne, for respondents (Raymond J. Cuddy, Bayonne, attorney).

The opinion of the court was delivered by

BURLING, J.

This is a civil action sounding in tort, grounded in the alleged actionable negligence of the defendant, Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company, a corporation of the State of New Jersey, in connection with the maintenance of stairs in the railroad station of the defendant at Journal Square in the city of Jersey City, New Jersey. The action was commenced by the plaintiffs, Florence A. Bohn, and her husband, Edward Bohn, per quod, against the defendant in the Hudson County Court and, after a trial by court and jury, terminated in a verdict for the plaintiffs in the sum of $6,500 in favor of Florence A. Bohn and $1,500 in favor of Edward Bohn. The trial court, on motion for new trial, refused to disturb the verdict and judgments entered thereon. Upon the defendant's subsequent appeal to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, the judgments were affirmed. 30 N.J.Super. 89, 103 A.2d 388 (1954). Thereupon the defendant addressed a petition for certification to this court, upon which certification was allowed. 15 N.J. 496, 105 A.2d 568 (1954).

This appeal is addressed to this court on the premise that the Appellate Division of the Superior Court has so far sanctioned a departure by the trial court from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for an exercise of this court's supervision. See R.R. 1:10-2(d). The questions involved attack the sufficiency of the evidence, with respect to first the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for judgment of dismissal at the close of the introduction of evidence by the plaintiffs, and, second, the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for judgment made at the termination of the reception of all the evidence. The appeal does not bring before us the weight of the evidence upon which the jury verdict was rendered.

The basic philosophy of negligence breach of duty, is expressed in Mazzilli v. Selger, 13 N.J. 296, 301, 99 A.2d 417, 419 (1953) as follows:

"The basic philosophy applicable to an action of this category is that to render a person liable on the theory of negligence there must be some breach of duty on his part to the individual complaining, the observance of which would have averted or avoided the injury. 1 Shearman and Redfield on Negligence (Rev.Ed.1941), secs. 4, 5, pp. 10-12; Prosser on Torts (1941), sec. 30, p. 177, and sec. 31, pp. 178, et seq.; Harper on Torts (1933), sec. 68, pp. 157-158."

The measure for application to the tests of duty and breach of duty in negligence [108 A.2d 8] cases is to be found in the selection of the pertinent and settled substantive legal principles implemented with appropriate comparison of similar factual cases upon which courts have already pronounced judgment.

The appeal addressed to us in the present case broaches no question upon the existence, nature or extent of the injuries sustained by the female plaintiff, nor the derivative damage or injury sustained by her husband. Nor is there any assertion that the immediate cause thereof was not the female plaintiff's loss of footing, as alleged by her, on a step on the premises of the defendant and under its exclusive control. The facts surrounding the fall were clearly illuminated by the evidence introduced and were not controverted except as to the condition of the step.

The basic duty in a case of this category is that the proprietor of premises, to which the public is invited for consummation of business with the proprietor, owes a duty to exercise reasonable care to see that one who enters his premises upon that invitation has a reasonably safe place to do that which is within the scope of the invitation. The duty of the proprietor is satisfied when he has used reasonable care to maintain the premises in question in a condition reasonably safe for the business invitee's proper use.

In New Jersey, Phillips v. Library Co., 55 N.J.L. 307, 310, 27 A. 478 et seq. (E. & A.1893) is the keystone decision on fundamental duty as to an invitee. In the present type of access case the duty is set forth in Delaware, L. & W.R.R. Co. v. Trautwein, 52 N.J.L. 169, 175, 19 A. 178, 180, 7 L.R.A. 435 (E. & A.1889) as follows:

" * * * The company must also provide safe means for access to and from its station for the use of passengers, and passengers have a right to assume that the means of access provided are reasonably safe * * *."

With respect to maintenance of railway station, " * * * in order to make out a case of negligence or of neglect of duty on the part of the company, it must be shown that they used or managed their property in such a way as to render it likely to be a source of danger to their passengers, and persons lawfully using the station * * *." I Addison on Torts (Wood's ed. 1881), sec. 24, pp. 270-271. In cases relating to steps " * * * it is always a question whether the mischief could reasonably have been foreseen, and whether precautions ought not to have been taken to guard against it * * *." Ibid. Cf. The Law of Torts, Pollock (12th ed. 1923), pp. 523-525.

As a matter of caveat it may be stated that the business proprietor, and the common carrier as well, however, is "not an insurer of the safety of its customers against accident happening to them while walking or running up and down its stairways" in its premises. Schnatterer v. Bamberger & Co., 81 N.J.L. 558, 561, 79 A. 324, 34 L.R.A., N.S., 1077 (E. & A.1911). The law of negligence does not necessarily prohibit the creation of risks to others but generally requires only that the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
23 practice notes
  • Crawn v. Campo
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • July 30, 1993
    ...144, 148 A.2d 465 (1959). If the co-participant creates an unreasonably great risk, he is negligent. Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R.R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 186, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). Assumption of risk does nothing except obfuscate the analysis by wrongly suggesting that a sports participant can or......
  • Krug v. Wanner, No. A--13
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • November 3, 1958
    ...its premises, including means of ingress and egress, in reasonably safe condition. See Page 180 Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 108 A.2d 5 (1954); Brody v. Albert Lifson & Sons, 17 N.J. 383, 111 A.2d 504 (1955). Cf. Nelson v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., 48 N.J.Super. 3......
  • Rappaport v. Nichols, No. A--22
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • November 23, 1959
    ...A.2d 626 (1957); Harpell v. Public Service Coordinated Transport, 20 N.J. 309, 316, 120 A.2d 43 (1956); Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 186, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). And, correspondingly, the standard of care is the conduct of the reasonable person of ordinary prudence under the c......
  • Genovay v. Fox, No. A--623
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • June 16, 1958
    ...the invitation. Brody v. Albert Lifson & Sons, 17 N.J. 383, 389, 111 A.2d 504 (1955); Bohn [143 A.2d 235] v. Hudson & Manhattan Ry. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 185, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). The measure of care has also been described as 'due care under all the circumstances.' 2 Harper and James, Law of Tor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Crawn v. Campo
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • July 30, 1993
    ...144, 148 A.2d 465 (1959). If the co-participant creates an unreasonably great risk, he is negligent. Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R.R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 186, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). Assumption of risk does nothing except obfuscate the analysis by wrongly suggesting that a sports participant can or......
  • Krug v. Wanner, No. A--13
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • November 3, 1958
    ...its premises, including means of ingress and egress, in reasonably safe condition. See Page 180 Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 108 A.2d 5 (1954); Brody v. Albert Lifson & Sons, 17 N.J. 383, 111 A.2d 504 (1955). Cf. Nelson v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., 48 N.J.Super. 3......
  • Rappaport v. Nichols, No. A--22
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • November 23, 1959
    ...A.2d 626 (1957); Harpell v. Public Service Coordinated Transport, 20 N.J. 309, 316, 120 A.2d 43 (1956); Bohn v. Hudson & Manhattan R. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 186, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). And, correspondingly, the standard of care is the conduct of the reasonable person of ordinary prudence under the c......
  • Genovay v. Fox, No. A--623
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • June 16, 1958
    ...the invitation. Brody v. Albert Lifson & Sons, 17 N.J. 383, 389, 111 A.2d 504 (1955); Bohn [143 A.2d 235] v. Hudson & Manhattan Ry. Co., 16 N.J. 180, 185, 108 A.2d 5 (1954). The measure of care has also been described as 'due care under all the circumstances.' 2 Harper and James, Law of Tor......
  • 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