Brooks v. Consol. Gas Co. of N.J.

Citation70 N.J.L. 211,57 A. 396
Decision Date29 February 1904
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)

(Syllabus by the Court.)

Error to Supreme Court.

Action by Catharine Brooks, administratrix, against the Consolidated Gas Company of New Jersey. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Affirmed.

Edwin A. S. Lewis, for plaintiff in error. Samuel A. Patterson, for defendant in error.

MAGIE, Ch. This writ of error brings up a judgment of the Supreme Court affirming a judgment of the Monmouth circuit court entered upon the verdict of a jury finding the defendant company liable for the death of plaintiff's intestate. The contention here is that the circuit court erred in submitting the case to the jury. From the record and bills of exceptions, it appears that the court refused to nonsuit the plaintiff, and declined to give a direction for a verdict for the defendant. Exceptions to each ruling were allowed, and, under proper assignments of error, it is now claimed that the judgment should be reversed.

The argument here asserts error in these respects on two grounds, viz: (1) That there was no evidence sufficient to justify the conclusion that the defendant company was liable to an action for the death of plaintiff's intestate; and (2) that the evidence conclusively showed that his death was due to his own negligence and lack of care.

The circumstances under which plaintiff's intestate came to his death, as disclosed by evidence which the jury might credit, with such reasonable inferences therefrom as the Jury might draw, are the following: He was in the employ of one Asiel, and in charge, as care taker, of Asiel's house at Long Branch. His employer and family had left the house, and the deceased was living with his family in the stable on the premises. Among the duties of the deceased, he was required to watch for and repair leaks in the roofs and shingles of the house. On the day in question he went, accompanied by his young son, upon a balcony extending over a part of the first story, and accessible only from the house. The balcony had a tin floor, with a gutter and leaders therefrom. There was a railing nearly four feet in height, the gutter being on the outside thereof. Deceased engaged in painting the gutter, leaning over the railing. The son was playing on the floor of the balcony. No other person was within observation. Some exclamation from the deceased called the son's attention, and he observed that his father was leaning over the railing, with his paint brush in his right hand, in the gutter, while his left hand grasped a wire at the side of the house. The wire was one by which the defendant company furnished a current of electricity for the lighting of the house. At Mr. Asiel's request, the current had been shut off from the house, but continued to flow through the wire which deceased had in his grasp. The son endeavored to pull his father away, receiving a severe shock himself. Others who came shortly found the deceased in the position described by the son. They extricated the body, and made efforts to resuscitate him, without result They noticed that the left hand was severely burned, with rubber blisters therein, and that the insulation of the wire which he had grasped was pulled down, exposing the wire for some inches.

It is clear that the inference that plaintiff's intestate was killed by a current of electricity transmitted by the defendant company through the wire in question, which operated to produce injury by passing through his body to the tin floor of the balcony, and thence, by the leaders, to the ground, was one which the jury might justifiably make. But this inference alone would not establish defendant's liability to answer in damages for the death. It must further appear that, in transmitting the current through the wire in the condition it then was, the defendant company was negligent in some duty which it owed to the deceased. The defendant company furnished a current...

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14 cases
  • Afton Electric Co. v. Harrison
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 18, 1936
    ...... Anstead v. Gas Company, (Cal.) 265 P. 487;. Brooks v. Consolidated Gas Company, (N. J.) 57 A. 396; Smith v. Company, 74 Pa. 647. The facts proven. ......
  • Scott v. Pacific Power & Light Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 28, 1934
    ...... while walking along the gutter of a roof. . . In. Brooks v. Consolidated Gas Co., 70 N. J. Law, 211,. 57 A. 396, 398, in holding the company liable ......
  • Gudnestad v. Seaboard Coal Dock Co., s. A--107
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • March 29, 1954
    ...87 N.J.L. 29, 93 A. 108 (Sup.Ct.1915); Albanese v. Central R. Co., 70 N.J.L. 241, 57 A. 447 (E. & A.1903); Brooks v. Consolidated Gas Co., 70 N.J.L. 211, 57 A. 396 (E. & A.1903). A recent pronouncement in reference to the application of the rule as it prevails appears in Hendrikson v. Koppe......
  • Beck v. Monmouth Lumber Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • May 13, 1948 jury to him ought reasonably to have been anticipated.’ Liability herein is predicated on a breach of that duty. Brooks v. Consolidated Gas Co., 70 N.J.L. 211, 57 A. 396; Heyer v. Jersey Central Power & Light Co., 106 N.J.L. 211, 147 A. 452. The power company contends there is no evidenc......
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