DePue v. Flateau

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtBROWN
Citation111 N.W. 1,100 Minn. 299
PartiesDEPUE v. FLATEAU et al.
Decision Date15 March 1907

100 Minn. 299
111 N.W. 1

DEPUE
v.
FLATEAU et al.*

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

March 15, 1907.


Appeal from District Court, Watonwan County; Lorin Cray, Judge.

Action by Orlando Depue against John Flateau, Sr., and John Flateau, Jr. Action dismissed. From an order denying a new trial, plaintiff appeals. Reversed.


Syllabus by the Court

Whenever a person is placed in such a position with regard to another that it is obvious that if he does not use due care in his own conduct he will cause injury to that person, the duty at once arises to exercise care commensurate with the situation in which he thus finds fimself to avoid such injury; and a negligent failure to perform that duty renders him liable in damages.

The rule is more exacting respecting persons suffering from sickness or physical infirmities.

Plaintiff was a cattle buyer, and on the 23d of January, 1905, a very cold day, he called at the farm of defendants at about 5 o'clock in the evening to inspect some cattle he understood they had for sale. It was dark, and he was unable to inspect the cattle, whereupon he requested permission to remain with defendants overnight, which request was refused. He then bought some furs of members of defendants' family, and defendant Flateau, Sr., invited him to remain for supper. Upon this invitation he entered defendants' home and was given supper with the family. Soon thereafter he was taken violently ill and fell to the floor. From this point his memory is not clear as to what occurred, but he recalls that he again requested permission to remain at defendants' home overnight, and that his request was refused. Defendants then assisted him from the house and into his cutter, and started him on his journey home, seven miles away. He was found next morning, about three-quarters of a mile from defendants' house, nearly frozen to death, having been again attacked by his ailment and fallen from his cutter. He was taken to a nearby farmhouse and revived, and subsequently brought this action against defendants for damages, on the theory that, in view of his physical condition, which was known to defendants, they were guilty of negligence in sending him out unattended on a cold night to make his way to his home as best he could. It is held, within the general principle of law above stated, that, plaintiff not being a trespasser upon the premises of defendants, but there by express invitation, defendants owed him the duty, upon discovering his physical condition, to exercise reasonable care in their own conduct not to expose him to danger by sending him out from their home, and that, if defendants knew and appreciated his physical condition, their conduct amounted to negligence, and the question of their liability should have been submitted to the jury.


[111 N.W. 1]

J. E. Haycraft and W. S. Hammond, for appellant.

Pfau & Pfau, C. J. Laurisch, and Edward C. Farmer, for appellees.


BROWN, J.

The facts in this somewhat unusual case are as follows: Plaintiff was a cattle buyer, and accustomed to drive through the country in the pursuit of his business, buying cattle, hides, and furs from the farmers. On the evening of January 23, 1905, about 5 or 5:30 o'clock, after having been out a day or two in the country, he called at the house of defendants, about seven miles from Madelia, where he resided. His object was to inspect some cattle which Flateau, Sr., had for sale, and, if arrangements could be made, to purchase the same. It was dark at the time of his arrival, but he inspected the cattle in the barn, and suggested to defendant that, being unable to determine their value by reason of the darkness, he was not prepared to make an offer for the cattle, and requested the privilege of remaining overnight, to the end that a bargain might be made understandingly in the morning. His request was not granted. Plaintiff then bought some furs from other members of defendants' family, and Flateau, Sr., invited him to remain for supper. Under this invitation plaintiff entered the house, paid for the furs, and was given supper with the family. After the evening meal, plaintiff and both defendants repaired to the sitting room of the house, and plaintiff made preparation to depart for his home. His team had not been unhitched from the cutter, but was tied to a hitching post near the house. The testimony from this point leaves the facts in some doubt. Plaintiff testified that soon after reaching the sitting room he was taken with a fainting spell and fell to the floor. He remembers

[111 N.W. 2]

very little of what occurred after that, thought he does recall that, after fainting, he again requested permission to remain at defendants' overnight, and that his request was refused. Defendants both deny that this request was made, and testified, when called for cross-examination on the trial, that plaintiff put on his overshoes and buffalo coat unaided, and that, while adjusting a shawl about his neck, he stumbled against a partition between the dining room and the sitting room, but that he did not fall to the floor. Defendant Flateau, Jr., assisted...

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71 practice notes
  • Henry v. Mississippi Power & Light Co., 30455
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 27 Marzo 1933
    ...1 K. B. 439; Erickson v. Minn. St. Paul R. R. Co. (Minn.), 205 N.W. 889; Gunderson v. N.W. Elevator Co., 49 N.W. 694; Depue v. Flatau, 111 N.W. 1; 45 C. J., Negligence, section 307; 45 C. J., section [166 Miss. 831] 207; Shawnee v. Cheek (Okla.), 51 L.R.A. (N.S.) 672. It may be stated as a ......
  • Hunicke v. Meramec Quarry Co., No. 16969.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 19 Diciembre 1914
    ...Co., 163 S. W. 551; Salter v. Nebraska Tel. Co., 79 172 S.W. 50 Neb. 373, 112 N. W. 600, 13 L. R. A. (N. S.) 545; Depue v. Flateau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N. W. 1, 8 L. R. A. (N. S.) 485; Ohio & M. Ry. Co. v. Early, 141 Ind. 73, 40 N. E. 257, 28 L. R. A. loc. cit. 551; Railway Co. v. State, 29 ......
  • Lundy v. Adamar of New Jersey, Inc., No. 93-5265
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 12 Agosto 1994
    ...to impose an affirmative legal duty to act was handed down by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the celebrated case of Depue v. Flateau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N.W. 1, 3 (1907) (holding that the defendant, who was visited by a business-invitee who took ill during his visit, owed the invitee a duty......
  • Lee v. Peerless Ins. Co., No. 47816
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • 23 Febrero 1966
    ...v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 110 Va. 867, 67 S.E. 593; Prosser, Torts, § 54, p. [248 La. 1008] 339 (3rd ed., 1964). Cf. Depue v. Flateau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N.W. 1; Black v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 193 Mass. 448, 79 N.E. In his treatise, supra, Dean William L. Prosser summarizes the law of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
71 cases
  • Henry v. Mississippi Power & Light Co., 30455
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • 27 Marzo 1933
    ...1 K. B. 439; Erickson v. Minn. St. Paul R. R. Co. (Minn.), 205 N.W. 889; Gunderson v. N.W. Elevator Co., 49 N.W. 694; Depue v. Flatau, 111 N.W. 1; 45 C. J., Negligence, section 307; 45 C. J., section [166 Miss. 831] 207; Shawnee v. Cheek (Okla.), 51 L.R.A. (N.S.) 672. It may be stated as a ......
  • Hunicke v. Meramec Quarry Co., No. 16969.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 19 Diciembre 1914
    ...Co., 163 S. W. 551; Salter v. Nebraska Tel. Co., 79 172 S.W. 50 Neb. 373, 112 N. W. 600, 13 L. R. A. (N. S.) 545; Depue v. Flateau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N. W. 1, 8 L. R. A. (N. S.) 485; Ohio & M. Ry. Co. v. Early, 141 Ind. 73, 40 N. E. 257, 28 L. R. A. loc. cit. 551; Railway Co. v. State, 29 ......
  • Lundy v. Adamar of New Jersey, Inc., No. 93-5265
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 12 Agosto 1994
    ...to impose an affirmative legal duty to act was handed down by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the celebrated case of Depue v. Flateau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N.W. 1, 3 (1907) (holding that the defendant, who was visited by a business-invitee who took ill during his visit, owed the invitee a duty......
  • True v. Older, No. 34682.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • 19 Noviembre 1948
    ...she died on the 24th day of March, 1947.’ These allegations bring the case within the rule stated in [34 N.W.2d 703]Depue v. Flatau, 100 Minn. 299, 111 N.W. 1, 8 L.R.A., N.S., 485. See, also, Prosser, Torts, 120. In the case of Androws v. Coulter, 163 Wash. 429, 1 P.2d 320, the action was b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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