Casey v. Valley Sav. Bank, No. 45741.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMILLER
PartiesCASEY v. VALLEY SAV. BANK et al.
Decision Date18 November 1941
Docket NumberNo. 45741.

231 Iowa 19
300 N.W. 733

CASEY
v.
VALLEY SAV. BANK et al.

No. 45741.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Nov. 18, 1941.


Appeal from District Court, Polk County; Loy Ladd, Judge.

Action for damages for injuries to plaintiff, an employee of the tenant of a building, against the owner and lessor of the building. Answer was a general denial. The court directed a verdict for defendants. Plaintiff appeals.

Affirmed.

[300 N.W. 734]

Walter F. Maley and F. G. Ryan, both of Des Moines, for appellant.

Hallagan, Fountain, Steward & Cless, Whitfield & Musgrave, and Edw. J. Kelly, all of Des Moines, for appellees.


MILLER, Chief Justice.

The real estate involved herein is known as the Stratford Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa. Defendant bank acquired title thereto in 1934 following foreclosure of a mortgage. The property is used as a hotel. Defendants John and Kate M. Rolfsema have operated the hotel continuously since 1931 and were in possession as tenants for that purpose when the bank acquired title to the property. On December 17, 1936, the bank entered into a written lease with the Rolfsemas for the period January 1, 1937, to April 1, 1942, at a monthly rental of $250 during 1937, $300 during 1938 and 1939, $350 thereafter, and providing that the lessees should keep the premises in repair. The Rolfsemas have had exclusive possession of the premises under such lease. The bank assigned its interest in the property and the lease to the Valley Des Moines Company.

Plaintiff was a guest at the Stratford Hotel for some time and on May 19, 1940, was employed by Mrs. Rolfsema temporarily as night clerk in the hotel. Plaintiff asserts that the elevator on the premises was not equipped and maintained as required by Sections 1678 and 1684.1 of the Code 1939, that about midnight of May 19, 1940, he undertook to use the elevator to answer a buzzer call, fell into the elevator pit and was injured. He asserts that defendants were negligent in failing to maintain the elevator as required by statute, in failing to warn him of the defective condition, in operating the elevator with insufficient light, in failing to inspect the elevator and make repairs of its mechanism, and that he was free from contributory negligence.

Defendants Valley Savings Bank and Valley Des Moines Company moved to strike the cause of action against the Rolfsemas. This motion was overruled but the court granted separate trials to the two sets of defendants. The bank and the Valley Des Moines Company filed answers which asserted general denials, the transfer of the property and the lease to the Valley Des Moines Company and that said company as owner and lessor was not liable to plaintiff. Plaintiff filed a reply which asserted that the Valley Des Moines Company is a mere holding company for the bank.

The case proceeded to trial against the bank and the Valley Des Moines Company. Evidence was introduced by plaintiff which showed the acquisition of title to the building by defendant bank, the occupancy of the property by Rolfsemas, the written lease in regard thereto, the purported transfer of interest in the property and lease by the bank to the Valley Des Moines Company, the temporary employment of plaintiff as night clerk for the Rolfsemas on May 19, 1940, his use of the elevator in the course of such duties and the accident about midnight which caused the injuries for which he seeks recovery of damages.

At the close of plaintiff's evidence, the defendants made a motion for a directed verdict in their favor for the following reasons: The evidence fails to show any negligence on the part of defendants that was the proximate cause of the injury; the plaintiff failed to establish freedom from contributory negligence; the premises are shown to have been leased to the Rolfsemas who had entire control of same, including the elevator, and any defects therein are not chargeable to defendants as landlords, who had no notice of same; under the provisions of the lease, defendants would not be liable except through palpable neglect on their part which has not been shown; the bank had parted with its interest in the property and lease and owed no duty to plaintiff. The court sustained the motion generally, judgment was entered accordingly and plaintiff appeals. The only errors asserted as grounds for reversal pertain to the ruling on the motion for a directed verdict.

[1] I. Plaintiff's first assignment of error asserts that defendants are liable herein because the evidence shows that the elevator, at the time of the lease to the Rolfsemas and continuously thereafter to the time of plaintiff's injury, was inadequately lighted and not equipped as required by Sections 1678 and 1684.1 of the Code, 1939. We find no merit in this assignment.

Defendants assert that the plaintiff failed to establish that the premises were inadequately

[300 N.W. 735]

lighted. Without undertaking to review the evidence on this issue, suffice it to say that the evidence is undisputed that adequate lighting facilities were furnished. If there is any basis for the claim that the vicinity of the elevator was inadequately lighted, this condition was created by plaintiff, as night clerk, turning off a number of lights. He testified that he did this at the direction of Mrs. Rolfsema. Even so, we are unable to find any rule of law which would hold the defendants, as owners and lessors of the building, responsible for such condition upon the facts shown by this record. The cases upon which plaintiff relies are clearly distinguishable.

The statutory provisions regarding the equipment of the elevator upon which plaintiff relies are the following: Section 1678 of the Code 1939 provides, “Every elevator and elevator opening and machinery connected therewith * * * shall be so constructed, guarded, equipped, maintained,...

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6 practice notes
  • Greiner v. Hicks, No. 45538.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 18 Noviembre 1941
    ...these provisions of law, they should “determine whether or not said violation, if any, constituted wanton and wilful misconduct.” [300 N.W. 733]The jury could scarcely fail to understand from this instruction that the mere violation of these statutory provisions constituted wanton and wilfu......
  • Fetters v. City of Des Moines, No. 52327
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 4 Abril 1967
    ...applies as between lessor and lessee. See Barrett v. Stoneburg, 238 Iowa 1068, 1074, 29 N.W.2d 420; Casey v. Valley Savings Bank, 231 Iowa 19, 23--25, 300 N.W. 733; Reinach v. City and County of San Francisco, 164 Cal.App.2d 763, 331 P.2d 1006, 1009; Roan v. Bruckner, 180 Neb. 399, 143 N.W.......
  • Apartments v. Manolato, No. 46043.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 19 Marzo 1943
    ...conclusion is in no way inconsistent with Johnson v. Carter, 218 Iowa 587, 593, 255 N.W. 864, 93 A.L.R. 774, or Casey v. Valley Sav. Bank, 231 Iowa 19, 26, 300 N.W. 733, 737. In the Johnson case we held that the Housing Act did not impose any civil liability upon a landlord for damages sust......
  • Montgomery v. Engel, No. 53843
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 2 Septiembre 1970
    ...such rule and impose such liability.' Johnson v. Carter, supra, has been quoted with approval in Casey v. Valley Savings Bank, (1941) 231 Iowa 19, 25, 300 N.W. 733 (alleged violation of passenger and freight elevator provisions, now chapter 104, Code, 1966, held inapplicable to hotel guest)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Greiner v. Hicks, No. 45538.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 18 Noviembre 1941
    ...these provisions of law, they should “determine whether or not said violation, if any, constituted wanton and wilful misconduct.” [300 N.W. 733]The jury could scarcely fail to understand from this instruction that the mere violation of these statutory provisions constituted wanton and wilfu......
  • Fetters v. City of Des Moines, No. 52327
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 4 Abril 1967
    ...applies as between lessor and lessee. See Barrett v. Stoneburg, 238 Iowa 1068, 1074, 29 N.W.2d 420; Casey v. Valley Savings Bank, 231 Iowa 19, 23--25, 300 N.W. 733; Reinach v. City and County of San Francisco, 164 Cal.App.2d 763, 331 P.2d 1006, 1009; Roan v. Bruckner, 180 Neb. 399, 143 N.W.......
  • Apartments v. Manolato, No. 46043.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 19 Marzo 1943
    ...conclusion is in no way inconsistent with Johnson v. Carter, 218 Iowa 587, 593, 255 N.W. 864, 93 A.L.R. 774, or Casey v. Valley Sav. Bank, 231 Iowa 19, 26, 300 N.W. 733, 737. In the Johnson case we held that the Housing Act did not impose any civil liability upon a landlord for damages sust......
  • Montgomery v. Engel, No. 53843
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 2 Septiembre 1970
    ...such rule and impose such liability.' Johnson v. Carter, supra, has been quoted with approval in Casey v. Valley Savings Bank, (1941) 231 Iowa 19, 25, 300 N.W. 733 (alleged violation of passenger and freight elevator provisions, now chapter 104, Code, 1966, held inapplicable to hotel guest)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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