Dubs v. Northern Pacific Railway Co.

Decision Date26 February 1919
Citation171 N.W. 888,42 N.D. 124
CourtNorth Dakota Supreme Court

Rehearing denied April 10, 1919.

Action for personal injuries.

Appeal from order granting judgment non obstante, District Court Grant County, Hanley, J.

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded, with costs to the appellant.

Jacobson & Murray, for appellant.

"A verdict can be vacated or new trial granted only upon statutory grounds." Comp. Laws 1913, § 7660.

"The supreme court cannot go outside the specifications to find out whether or not the verdict can stand on other points not specified." Erickson v. Wiper, 33 N.D. 193; Buchanan v. Occident Elev. Co. 33 N.D. 346; Pathman v. Williams, 32 N.D. 365; Morris v Minneapolis, St. P. & S. Ste. M. R. Co. 32 N.D. 366; McLain v. Nurnberg, 16 N.D. 145; Howie v. Bratrud (S.D.) 86 N.W. 747; Kolka v. Jones (N.D.) 71 N.W. 558.

"The fact that the defendant did not see the plaintiff does not absolve it from the liability imposed by the "last clear chance doctrine." They must go one step further and show that they exercised ordinary care, and by the exercise of such ordinary care they did not see him." Davis v. Saginaw-Bay City R. Co. (Mich.) 157 N.W. 390; Palon v. G. N. R. Co. (Minn. ) 151 N.W. 894, 160 N.W. 670; Nichols v. C. B. & Q. R. Co. (Colo.) 98 P. 808; 8 Thomp. Neg. p. 48, § 238; Neary v. Northern P. R. Co. (Mont.) 97 P. 944; Cahill v. C. M. & St. P. R. Co. (Iowa) 121 N.W. 553; Purcell v. C. & N.W. R. Co. (Iowa) 91 N.W. 933; Christiansen v. Illinois C. R. Co. (Iowa) 118 N.W. 387; Johnson v. C. M. & St. P. R. Co. (Iowa) 98 N.W. 312; Tennessee C. R. Co. v. Cook, 146 Ky. 372, 142 S.W. 683; Becker v. L. & N. R. Co. 110 Ky. 474, 53 L.R.A. 267, 96 Am. St. Rep. 459, 61 S.W. 997; Nehring v. Connecticut Co. 86 Conn. 109, 45 L.R.A.(N.S.) 896, 84 A. 301.

"The fact that the engineer says that he did not see the boy until he was within 40 feet of him is not binding on the jury, but must be weighed in the light of the physical facts." Cahill v. Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co. 121 N.W. 553; Purcell v. C. & N.W. R. Co. (Iowa) 91 N.W. 933; Christiansen v. Illinois C. R. Co. (Iowa) 118 N.W. 387; Johnson v. C. M. & St. P. R. Co. 98 N.W. 312; 8 Thomp. Neg. § 239, p. 48, note 4, and cases cited; Anderson v. G. N. R. Co. (Idaho) 99 P. 91, 24 N.D. 463, 16 N.D. 217.

"The defendants knew that the children played upon the tracks at that point. This imposed upon them a greater duty of lookout than on other points of the line." Trojanowski v. C. & N.W. R. Co. (Wis.) 157 N.W. 536; Krumack v. Missouri P. R. Co. (Neb.) 154 N.W. 541; Kunkel v. Minneapolis St. P. & S. Ste. M. R. Co. 18 N.D. 367, 131 P. 656; Lewis v. Rio Grande Western R. Co. (Utah) 123 P. 97; Anderson v. G. N. R. Co. 99 P. 91.

"The fact that the defendant might be entitled to a directed verdict is not sufficient grounds for granting that motion." First State Bank v. Kelly, 30 N.D. 84; Beleal v. N. P. R. Co. 15 N.D. 318; Meehan v. G. N. R. Co. 13 N.D. 432.

Watson, Young, & Conmy, for respondent.

"Persons who use railroad tracks in rural communities are not licensees merely because the railroad company does nothing to keep them off." Helton v. Chesapeake & O. R. Co. 163 S.W. 224; Miller v. Illinois C. R. Co. 118 S.W. 348; Chesapeake O. & R. Co. v. Farrow, 55 S.E. 570; Chesapeake & O. R. Co. v. Nipp (Ky.) 100 S.W. 246; Beiser v. R. Co. 92 S.W. 928; Krenzer v. R. Co. (Ind.) 43 N.E. 648; L. & N. Ry. Co. v. Mitchell (Ala.) 32 So. 735; Burg v. C. R. I. & P. R. Co. (Iowa) 57 N.W. 680; McCoy v. R. Co. 192 S.W. 45; McKnight v. L. & N. R. Co. 181 S.W. 947; Malott v. R. Co. 160 P. 978; Schreiner v. G. N. R. Co. (Minn.) 90 N.W. 400; Hamlin v. C. P. & S. R. Co. 79 P. 991; Southern R. Co. v. Sanders (Ky.) 79; Petur v. Erie R. Co. 136 N.Y.S. 79; Southern R. Co. v. Stewart, 51 So. 324; Illinois C. R. Co. v. Johnson, 115 S.W. 798; Curties v. So. R. (Ga.) 61 S.E. 539; Egan v. R. Co. (Mont.) 63 P. 831; Dotta v. N. P. R. Co. (Wash.) 79 P. 32; Riordan v. New York C. R. Co. 87 N.Y.S. 364; St. Louis R. Co. v. Shiflet (Tex.) 83 S.W. 677; Leduc v. R. Co. 87 N.Y.S. 364; Watson v. C. & O. R. Co. 185 S.W. 852; Willis v. L. & N. R. Co. 175 S.W. 18; L. & N. R. Co. v. Davis (Ky.) 172 S.W. 966; Cannon v. Cleveland R. Co. (Ind.) 62 N.E. 8; Piper v. C. M. & St. P. R. Co. (Minn.) 133 N.W. 984; Anderson v. R. Co. (Wis.) 58 N.W. 79; L. & N. R. Co. v. Petren, 180 S.W. 370.

"One who sits down upon a railroad track and goes to sleep is a trespasser, though at a point where persons are accustomed to cross." Southern R. Co. v. Smith, 50 So. 391; Lyons v. Illinois C. R. Co. 59 S.W. 507; M. K. & T. Ry. Co. v. Malone, 102 Tex. 269, 115 S.W. 1158; Massey v. International & G. N. R. Co. 162 S.W. 372; Krenzer v. R. Co. (Ind.) 43 N.E. 648; Missouri K. & T. R. Co. v. Malone, 115 S.W. 1158; Wagner v. C. & N. W. (Iowa) 98 N.W. 141; Over v. R. Co. (Tex.) 73 S.W. 535.

"If the deceased was a trespasser on its tracks or right of way the defendant owed him no duty except not to wilfully, wantonly, or recklessly injure him, and there is no allegation or proof of such wilful or reckless injury." Kunkle v. Soo (N.D.) 121 N.W. 832; Wright v. R. Co. 12 N.D. 159, 96 N.W. 324.

And this rule of law is followed by practically every court in the land. Lapp v. L. H. & S. R. Co. (Ky.) 199 S.W. 798; McCarthy v. N.Y. R. Co. 240 F. 602; Gregory v. R. Co. (Iowa) 101 N.W. 761; Ellington v. R. Co. (Minn.) 104 N.W. 827; Thomas v. R. Co. (Iowa) 72 N.W. 783; Ward v. So. P. R. Co. (Ariz.) 26 P. 166; Thompson v. Illinois C. R. Co. 154 Ky. 820; Kayden v. A. T. & S. F. R. Co. (Kan.) 124 P. 165; Reynolds v. Cincinnati R. Co. 148 Ky. 252; Hammers v. Colorado Southern R. Co. 128 La. 648; St. Louis R. Co. v. Humbert, 101 Ark. 532; Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Barton (Ga.) 80 S.E. 530; Massy v. R. Co. (Tex.) 162 S.W. 371; R. Co. v. Bolton (Ind. Terr.) 51 S.W. 1085; Egan v. R. Co. (Mont.) 63 P. 831; Kansas R. Co. v. Cook, 66 F. 115; Illinois C. R. Co. v. Murphy, 97 S.W. 729; Kenmare v. R. Co. 114 Ill.App. 230; Sheenan v. R. Co. 76 F. 201; De Vries v. Chicago R. I. & P. R. Co. 167 Ill.App. 331; Holmes v. R. Co. (Mich.) 137 N.W. 540; Yazoo R. Co. v. Smith (Miss.) 71 So. 752; C. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Stephen (Ky.) 182 S.W. 938; Joy v. C. B. & Q. R. Co. (Ill.) 105 N.E. 330; Baltimore & O. R. Co. v. Stale (Md.) 87 A. 676; Khinovcik v. Boston & M. R. Co. (Mass.) 96 N.E. 52; Erie R. Co. v. McCormack (Ohio) 68 N.E. 571; Dotta v. N. P. (Wash.) 79 P. 32; Brooks v. R. Co. (Ind.) 62 N.E. 694; Young v. R. Co. (N. J.) 37 A. 1013; Ry. Co. v. Rocks (Va.) 44 S.E. 709; Raines v. C. & O. R. Co. (W. Va.) 19 S.E. 565; Remer v. Long Island R. Co. 48 Hun, 352; Farrow v. Chesapeake & O. R. Co. (Va.) 55 S.E. 569; Bartlett v. R. Co. 77 N.E. 96.

Generally as to the duty owed toward trespassing children upon railroad tracks. McCarthy v. New Haven R. Co. 240 F. 606; Crawford v. R. Co. (Ga.) 33 S.E. 826; Thomas v. R. Co. (Iowa) 72 N.W. 783; Western & A. R. Co. v. Rodgers, 30 S.E. 804; Alabama G. S. R. Co. v. Moorer, 22 So. 900; Dull v. R. Co. (Ind.) 52 N.W. 1013; Wagner v. R. Co. (Iowa) 100 N.W. 332; A. T. & S. F. R. Co. v. Todd (Kan.) 38 P. 804; Felton v. Aubrey, 74 F. 350; Ellington v. G. N. R. Co. (Minn.) 104 N.W. 827; O'Barmion v. So. R. Co. (Ky.) 110 S.W. 329; Palmer v. R. Co. (Utah) 98 P. 689; C. & O. R. Co. v. Price (Ky.) 200 S.W. 927; Norfolk R. Co. v. Dunaway (Va.) 24 S.E. 698; Tuker v. R. Co. (W. Va.) 24 S.E. 229; Murch v. R. Co. (N.Y.) 29 N.Y.S. 490; R. Co. v. Williams (Miss.) 12 So. 957; R. Co. v. Prewith (Kan.) 54 P. 1067; R. Co. v. Kelley, 93 F. 745; Goodman v. R. Co. 77 S.W. 174.

"Even in a case of a licensee there can be no recovery unless negligence amounting to wantonness is shown." Illinois C. R. Co. v. Arnola (Miss.) 29 So. 768; Scharf v. Spokane R. Co. (Wash.) 159 P. 797; Railroads Decennial Digest No. 358; Rosenthal v. R. Co. 98 N.Y.S. 476; Carr v. Missouri P. R. Co. 92 S.E. 874; Feech v. Delaware & H. R. Co. 158 N.Y.S. 825; Laporta v. New York C. R. Co. (Mass.) 112 N.E. 643; Long v. P. R. Co. & Nav. Co. 145 P. 1068; Pittsburg R. Co. v. Forest (Ind.) 99 N.E. 493; Adams v. L. & E. R. Co. 104 S.W. 363; L. & N. R. Co. v. Lawson, 170 S.W. 198; C. & O. R. Co. v. Sanders (Va.) 83 S.E. 374; Burg v. C. R. I. & P. R. Co. (Iowa) 57 N.W. 680.

BRONSON, J. GRACE, J., concurring in the result. ROBINSON, J. (dissenting).

OPINION

BRONSON, J.

On July 5, 1912, Edmund Dubs, then nine years of age, was run over and seriously maimed, through the loss of an arm and leg, by the train of the defendant near New Leipzig. Through his guardian ad litem, the appellant, this action is maintained for injuries so sustained. In the district court, upon trial, the jury rendered a verdict for $ 3,000 in favor of the plaintiff. Thereafter the trial court granted judgment non obstante upon the ground that the evidence adduced was insufficient to justify the verdict because no actionable negligence of the defendant was shown. From such order and judgment entered thereon, the plaintiff appeals, and specifies error of the trial court in making such order.

The sole question in this case requiring our attention is whether upon the record, and the verdict of the jury, actionable negligence of the defendant is shown through its failure to avoid injury to the boy after discovering him to be in a position of peril.

To sustain the order of the trial court granting judgment non obstante, it must appear clearly upon the whole record, as a matter of law, that the defendant was entitled to a judgment in the merits. First State Bank v. Kelly, 30 N.D. 84, 98, 152 N.W. 125, Ann. Cas. 1917D, 1044.

It was the duty of the defendant to exercise ordinary care to...

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