Craig v. Augusta-aiken Ry. Co

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWOODS
Citation76 S.E. 21,93 S.C. 49
Decision Date26 October 1912
PartiesCRAIG. v. AUGUSTA-AIKEN RY. CO.

76 S.E. 21
93 S.C. 49

CRAIG.
v.
AUGUSTA-AIKEN RY. CO.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Oct. 26, 1912.


Street Railroads (§ 118*)—Intoxicated Passengers—Ejection—Action for Injury—Instructions.

In an action against an electric railway company for injury to an intoxicated passenger who was struck by one car after being ejected from another, instructions held erroneous.

[Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Street Railroads, Cent. Dig. §§ 258-269; Dec. Dig. § 118.*]

Gary, C. J., dissenting.

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court, Aiken County; S. W. G. Shipp, Judge.

"To be officially reported."

Action by M. C. Craig against the Augusta-Aiken Railway Company. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. Reversed.

The following are defendant's exceptions.

"(1) The presiding judge erred in charging the jury as follows: 'It is the duty of the railroad company to look out for people on its track, and, if the company discovers a person on its track, it is the duty of the people in charge of that car to use the highest degree of care, to use every available means in their power to stop the car to prevent the taking of human life, if they can do so without endangering other passengers on their car'—the error being that it is not the general duty of a railroad company to keep a lookout for people on its track. And the said charge placed a higher duty on the defendant after discovering a person on the track than the law requires, was misleading to the jury, harmful and prejudicial to the rights of the defendant.

"(2) The presiding judge erred in charging the jury: 'When a person is on the crossing, they owe him the duty of ordinary care, and. of course, that is a stronger term than willfully not to injure him'—the error being that said charge placed upon the defendant a greater duty than was possible for it to perform, was misleading and confusing to the jury, and prejudicial to the defendant's rights.

"(3) The presiding judge erred in charging the. plaintiff's third request, especially the following part thereof: 'But people lawfully upon a public highway at a railway crossing are not trespassers, even though they are lying down thereon, in a helpless, drank condition, and the railroad under these circumstances would be bound to exercise greater care to such person than if he were a bald trespasser'—the error being that a person under such circumstances would be a trespasser, and the defendant would owe him no duty except not to willfully injure him after discovering him in that position. Furthermore, said request was a charge on the facts, in that it instructed the jury what facts would not constitute a trespasser, contrary to the provision of the Constitution which inhibits the presiding judge from charging on the facts.

"(4) The presiding judge erred in charging plaintiff's fourth request, especially that portion thereof which charges that if the motor-man 'sees or could have seen an object on the track that from all appearances may be

[76 S.E. 22]

a human being, unable to avoid danger, it is his duty to resolve all doubts in favor of the preservation of life, and to immediately use every available means, short of imperiling the lives of his passengers, to stop the car in time to avoid the injury'—the error being that said charge was a charge on the facts contrary to the provision of the Constitution which inhibits the presiding judge from charging on the facts. And said charge was especially harmful because the undisputed proof showed that the plaintiff was down drunk, and asleep on defendant's track at the time he was injured.

"(5) The presiding judge erred in charging plaintiff's ninth request, which was as follows: 'That it is true a drunken person could not be run over by a car, unless he were on the track, yet the fact alone that a person is on a railway track at a public crossing in a drunken and helpless condition need not necessarily be contributory negligence, nor will it necessarily defeat him from recovering damages for his injuries, for, if that were the law, then no drunken person on a railway track could ever recover damages. In such case the law does not bar the person from damages, even though his presence on the railway track in a helpless drunken condition may be due to negligence on his part, for, if the jury believe from the evidence that notwithstanding such person's condition the defendant's motorman could have avoided the injury by keeping a reasonable lookout ahead on the track, but failed to do so, then, if such failure to perform his duty formed the main or proximate cause of the injury without which it could not have happened, you should find a verdict in favor of the plaintiff'—the error being that said request was a charge on the facts, in that it instructed the jury that certain facts would not necessarily constitute contributory negligence, when this was a question of fact entirely for the jury. Furthermore, the said request instructed the jury that, even if plaintiff's presence on the track in a drunken, helpless condition was due to his own negligence, they should still find a verdict for plaintiff if the defendant's negligence formed the main or proximate cause of the injury. Such charge completely destroyed defendant's defense of contributory negligence, and was error.

"(6) The presiding judge erred in charging plaintiff's tenth request, especially so much thereof as charged the jury that, if plaintiff was entitled to recover,. they could compensate him for the damages sustained 'both present and prospective, ' and that they could give him such damages as would equal the difference between what the plaintiff could earn before the injury and what he now earns after the injury over a length of time equal to what you may expect him to live, according to the mortuary table. And in charging the jury that, if they found that the plaintiff was entitled to punitive dam ages, in arriving at the amount of the verdict 'you have the right to take into consideration the proven wealth of the defendant'—the error being that said charge instructed the jury: (1) That they could enter the field of conjecture and award speculative and uncertain damages; (2) that said charge was a charge on the facts, in that it instructed the jury that they could compute the length of plaintiff's life merely from the time they expected him to live according to the mortuary table, when that table is only so much evidence to be considered in arriving at the length of time plaintiff would live, and thereby instructed the jury that they could enter the field of conjecture in arriving at plaintiff's damage; (3) because, as there was not a scintilla of evidence tending to show the wealth of the defendant, it was error to charge the jury that they could take into consideration the proven wealth...

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6 practice notes
  • Key v. Carolina & N. W. Ry. Co, No. 13112.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 9, 1931
    ...has been consistently repudiated by this court. Spillers v. Griffin, 109 S. 0. 78, 95 S. E. 133, L. R. A. 1918D, 1193; Craig v. R. Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21, 24. In the Craig Case the charge to the jury attempted to impose liability under this doctrine. Justice Woods in delivering the o......
  • Sharpe v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11233.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 16, 1923
    ...obtained in this state (see Spillers v. Griffin, 109 S. C. 81, 95 S. E. 133, L. R. A. 1918D, 1193, and Craig v. Augusta-Aiken Railway Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21), that doctrine, correctly applied, would not avail to change the result. The principle of the last clear chance cannot be logi......
  • State v. Martin, (No. 10999.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 29, 1922
    ...is error. See, also, Walker v. Tel. Co., 75 S. C. 512, 56 S. E. 38; Hyland v. Tel. Co., 70 S. C. 315, 49 S. E. 879; Craig v. Railroad Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21. It does not necessarily follaw, however, that it is reversible error to charge a proposition of law where there are no facts i......
  • Mcleod v. Atl. Coast Line R. Co
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 28, 1912
    ...extreme illustrations, suppose, after proof of long delay in delivery of a telegram, or of entire failure to deliver it, the defendant[76 S.E. 21]should produce a written order from the plaintiff, directing it to hold his telegrams until he called for them, or should have the evidence of cr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Key v. Carolina & N. W. Ry. Co, No. 13112.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 9, 1931
    ...has been consistently repudiated by this court. Spillers v. Griffin, 109 S. 0. 78, 95 S. E. 133, L. R. A. 1918D, 1193; Craig v. R. Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21, 24. In the Craig Case the charge to the jury attempted to impose liability under this doctrine. Justice Woods in delivering the o......
  • Sharpe v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11233.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 16, 1923
    ...obtained in this state (see Spillers v. Griffin, 109 S. C. 81, 95 S. E. 133, L. R. A. 1918D, 1193, and Craig v. Augusta-Aiken Railway Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21), that doctrine, correctly applied, would not avail to change the result. The principle of the last clear chance cannot be logi......
  • State v. Martin, (No. 10999.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 29, 1922
    ...is error. See, also, Walker v. Tel. Co., 75 S. C. 512, 56 S. E. 38; Hyland v. Tel. Co., 70 S. C. 315, 49 S. E. 879; Craig v. Railroad Co., 93 S. C. 49, 76 S. E. 21. It does not necessarily follaw, however, that it is reversible error to charge a proposition of law where there are no facts i......
  • Mcleod v. Atl. Coast Line R. Co
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 28, 1912
    ...extreme illustrations, suppose, after proof of long delay in delivery of a telegram, or of entire failure to deliver it, the defendant[76 S.E. 21]should produce a written order from the plaintiff, directing it to hold his telegrams until he called for them, or should have the evidence of cr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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