Central Vermont Railway Company v. L. M. Carpenter

Decision Date20 May 1912
Citation83 A. 466,86 Vt. 67
CourtVermont Supreme Court

October Term, 1911.

PETITION for a writ of certiorari brought to the Supreme Court for Windham County at its October Term, 1911, and then heard on the pleadings. The opinion states the case.

Writ denied with costs.

Clarke C. Fitts and Harold E. Whitney for the petitioner.

Cudworth & Pierce and Gibson & Waterman for the petitionee.



We have here an action on the case, which is pending in the county court of Windham County, wherein the defendant seasonably preferred its petition to the presiding judge of that court, asking for a change of venue, because of a prejudice against it in that county. The prayer of that petition having been denied on hearing, the defendant has brought this petition for a writ of certiorari to bring up for review the record of the proceedings thereunder.

So far as need be stated, the allegations of the petition for a change of venue are to this effect:

The pending suit is an action for the recovery of damages on account of personal injuries alleged to have been suffered by the plaintiff, while in the defendant's employ, through the latter's negligence. The defendant operates a railroad from New London, Conn. to Brattleboro, Vt. In September, 1910, the Public Service Commission ordered the defendant to abolish the grade crossing at Brattleboro--to which undertaking the town of Brattleboro had voted to appropriate a large sum of money. This order, the defendant promptly proceeded to carry into effect. At the last session of the legislature, the Vermont Valley Railroad, which is operated by the Boston & Maine Railroad, sought the right to construct a line paralleling the tracks of the defendant from South Vernon to Brattleboro, and a bill was introduced providing for this. This project brought on an acute controversy between the two railroads, which came to involve the citizens of Brattleboro and the whole county, who, on account of expected increased railroad facilities, benefits and advantages, earnestly espoused the cause of the Vermont Valley road. The two newspapers published in Brattleboro took an active part in the controversy, advocating the cause of the Vermont Valley, and made it a leading feature of their successive issues. These papers are said to circulate in every town in the county and to reach practically every person therein qualified to serve as jurors in county court and have been a factor in creating a general prejudice against the defendant throughout the county. Certain issues of these papers are made a part of the petition by reference. While the railroad bill was pending before the legislature, public meetings were held at Brattleboro, at which marked hostility toward the defendant was shown. A special town meeting was held in Brattleboro, at which the appropriation in aid of the abolition of the grade crossing was rescinded, and the town authorities began proceedings to have the order aforesaid revoked, which proceedings the defendant is contesting.

Brattleboro is the natural business center of the county; from it emanate lines of public communication reaching practically every town and hamlet therein, and anything which affects the railroad situation in Brattleboro is of vital interest to the whole county; and citizens throughout the county participated in the general agitation which has been going on regarding these matters.

The allegations close with the assertion that "throughout the county there exists a prejudice against your petitioner, well defined, general, and openly expressed."

The petition is signed and sworn to by G. C. Jones, General Manager. No formal answer was filed. Numerous exhibits and copies of records and proceedings were filed in support of the petition, and the plaintiff filed numerous newspaper exhibits. No testimony was filed or offered by either party.

In disposing of the matter, the presiding judge said:

"I am unable to find that there is reason to believe that said action cannot be impartially tried in the county of Windham, and the petition is dismissed. I do not consider the evidence sufficient to show such a feeling among the people of this county as to prevent a fair trial of the case by jury."

The defendant...

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