Ehrke v. Danek

Decision Date04 April 1939
Docket NumberNo. 111.,111.
Citation285 N.W. 37,288 Mich. 498
PartiesEHRKE v. DANEK et al.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court


Action by Henry C. Ehrke, administrator of the estate of Louise M. Ehrke, deceased, against Stephen Danek and another for death of the deceased resulting from an automobile collision. From a judgment entered on a directed verdict for the defendants, the plaintiff appeals.


Appeal from Circuit Court, Shiawassee County; Joseph H. Collins, judge.

Argued before the Entire Bench.

John J. Temple and Charles A. Lorenzo, both of Detroit, for appellant.

Picard & Heilman, of Saginaw, for appellees.

NORTH, Justice.

In this suit plaintiff, as the administrator of the estate of his deceased wife, seeks to recover for her estate damages caused by an automobile collision at the intersection of two highways which resulted in the wife's death five days after the accident. Plaintiff was driving the automobile in which his decedent was a passenger at the time of the accident. The case was brought on for trial before a jury and at the conclusion of plaintiff's proofs, on motion of defendants, verdict was directed against plaintiff. Judgment was entered thereon, and plaintiff has appealed.

Verdict was directed against plaintiff by the Circuit Judge because he found as a matter of law that plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence which was imputable to the deceased. The accident happened in the Township of New Haven, Shiawassee County, at the intersection of two county roads, Nos. 467 and 490, each being an improved gravel highway with a traveled surface about 20 feet in width. Plaintiff and his decedent were proceeding in a westerly direction on county road 490, and defendants' car, driven by Mrs. Danek, was traveling in a southerly direction on highway 467. Plaintiff was familiar with this intersection, the road surface was in good condition. The brakes on plaintiff's car were in good repair. The accident happened in broad daylight, and was unattended by any distracting circumstances whatever. As he approached this intersection, plaintiff's view to the south was unobstructed; but his view to the north was obstructed by a growth of weeds along the side of the highway, bushes at or near the fence line and a few trees. As plaintiff approached the intersection both he and his wife attempted to make an observation as to any oncoming traffic from the north, but because of the mentioned obstructions were unable to do so. Plaintiff slowed down the speed of his car as he approached the north and south highway so that when he entered upon the traveled portion thereof he was proceeding only at the rate of 3 to 5 miles per hour. The exact width of these two highways from fence line to fence line does not appear, but there is testimony that it was about 60 feet, there being about 20 feet in width on each side of the gravel. The land to plaintiff's right as he approached the intersection is practically level.

Primarily plaintiff's lack of care, if any, was a failure to make proper observation to the north before or at the time of entering the traveled portion of the intersection. As to this plaintiff testified:

‘When I was at a point twenty feet east of the northeast corner of the graveled road itself, I looked to the north and saw no car coming * * *.

‘Q. Where was it necessary for you to be on the east and west road before you had any view to the north, along the north road at all? A. I would have to be up to the edge of the gravel. * * * And I looked as I got up to the intersection, looked to the right and saw nothing. * * *

‘Q. * * * Now as you approached this corner you came to a place that was about 20 feet from the intersection proper, did you not? A. Yes, sir. * * *

‘Q. How far up the road could you see when you were 20 feet away from the traveled part of the road? A. Up to (?) the center part of the road here, you mean?

‘Q. Yes. A. Well, I don't know. Probably, maybe 100 feet.

Q. You were then going at the rate of 15 miles an hour, is that right? A. Yes, sir, approximately that as near as I can recall. * * *

‘Q. What is there, or was there that would prevent you, when you were 20 feet away from the traveled part of the road, going at a rate of speed where you could almost stop your car immediately, what was there that would stop you of getting a view of that road for almost as far as your eye could see to the morth? A. Well, I don't know unless it was the condition of the dust and the road. * * * There was considerable dust in the road, hanging over the fields and the road at the same time. * * *

‘Q. If it hadn't been for what you now claim was the dust or fog you could have seen up that road for some distance, couldn't you? A. I think so.

‘Q. And if you had you wouldn't have gone on this main traveled road if you had seen a car coming at a tremendous rate of speed? A. Positively not.

‘Q. So regardless of the dust you continued to go on out in the road, didn't you? A. I continued slowly, yes, sir. * * * Before going on the traveled part of the intersection I had...

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7 cases
  • MacDonald v. Skornia, 41.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 4 Octubre 1948
    ...Ormiston, 242 Mich. 600, 219 N.W. 618;Kerr v. Hayes, 250 Mich. 19, 229 N.W. 430;Kok v. Lattin, 261 Mich. 362, 246 N.W. 149;Ehrke v. Danek, 288 Mich. 498, 285 N.W. 37;Gallagher v. Walter, 299 Mich. 69, 299 N.W. 811. No idle ceremony is subserved by the requirement that such plaintiff maintai......
  • Bricker v. Green
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 7 Enero 1946
    ...verdict was reserved. This motion was renewed at the close of the testimony and the trial judge, under the authority of Ehrke v. Danek, 288 Mich. 498, 285 N.W. 37, directed a verdict in favor of defendant. On appeal, plaintiff's statement of questions involved is as follows: ‘1. Did the tri......
  • Bullis v. Michigan Associated Tel. Co., 61
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 7 Abril 1952
    ...49 N.W.2d 136, and Gibson v. Traver, 328 Mich. 698, 44 N.W.2d 834. See also Rak v. Lake, 271 Mich. 274, 260 N.W. 162, and Ehrke v. Danek, 288 Mich. 498, 285 N.W. 37. The proofs in this case do not show that defendant's employee suddenly accelerated speed or swerved the truck to the left jus......
  • Van Gilder v. Barnes, 80.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 4 Abril 1939
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