Esau v. Trustees of New York, N.H. & H.R. Co.

Decision Date29 May 1947
Citation73 N.E.2d 257,321 Mass. 330
PartiesMURRAY ESAU v. TRUSTEES OF NEW YORK, NEW HAVEN AND HARTFORD RAILROAD COMPANY.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

May 8, 9, 1947.

Present: FIELD, C.

J., LUMMUS, RONAN WILKINS, & SPALDING, JJ.

Negligence Railroad: station platform; Contributory; Invited person. Proximate Cause. Practice, Civil, Requests, rulings and instructions.

One who, after having procured a time table at a railroad station to plan a trip on the following day, was leaving the premises on a passengers' platform maintained as a part of the premises, did so at the implied invitation of those maintaining the railroad, and they owed him the duty of exercising care to keep the platform in a reasonably safe condition for his use.

A falling away, to a width of almost eighteen inches and a depth of "a very good one and one half or one and three quarters inches," of a stone dust surface of a walk adjoining a railroad station where the walk met a wooden platform continuing its course within a few feet of the rails of the railroad, so that the toe of a business visitor leaving the station struck the edge of the planking and he fell under the wheels of a passing train, warrantably was found to have shown negligence on the part of those maintaining the railroad and to have been the proximate cause of the visitor's injuries.

Evidence of the circumstances in which a business visitor, in walking on a platform when leaving a railroad station, caught his toe at a point where a portion of the platform composed of stone dust was an inch and a half to an inch and three quarters below a portion composed of wood, did not as a matter of law require a finding of contributory negligence on his part.

No error appeared in the denial of a request for a ruling which had no basis in the evidence.

A judge presiding at a trial is not required to grant a request for a ruling based on an indecisive fragment of the entire evidence upon one of the main issues on trial.

TORT. Writ in the Superior Court dated March 8, 1946. The declaration was in two counts, the first based on alleged negligence, and the second on the alleged maintenance of a nuisance.

The case was tried before Cabot, J., who ordered a verdict for the defendant on the second count and denied a motion of the defendant for a directed verdict on the first count. Both parties alleged exceptions.

S. C. Rand, (G d'A.

Belin, Jr., with him,) for the defendants.

R. J. Coffin, for the plaintiff.

RONAN, J. The plaintiff on the afternoon of February 12, 1946, travelled along the platform or walk leading to the Weymouth station of the defendants' railroad where he procured a time table as he was planning a trip to Boston on the next day. He stood in the station a few minutes reading the time table, and then left the station intending to retrace his steps and go to the street. As he was walking along the platform a train which had stopped at the station started up and was passing by him when his left toe struck the edge of the planking, which constitutes a part of the platform and spans a brook, causing him to fall in such a manner that both of his feet were crushed by the train. The plaintiff had a verdict.

The defendants excepted to the denial of a motion for a directed verdict, and contend that the evidence was insufficient to warrant a finding of negligence upon their part and that the plaintiff as matter of law was guilty of contributory negligence.

Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we summarize the findings which could be warrantably made by the jury. The plaintiff had approached the station platform from Quincy Avenue and travelled easterly along the walk or platform, which was about eight feet wide and had a surface of stone dust, except where the surface was of planking over a brook for a distance of thirty feet. He left the station shortly after obtaining the time table and was travelling in a westerly direction along the platform, which was located south of the tracks, when his left toe struck the edge of the planking causing him to fall so that his feet were crushed by the train, which had started up soon after he had left the station and was proceeding in a westerly direction on his right at the time of the accident. The surface of the center of the stone dust platform or walk was flush with the easterly side of the planking, but there was a depression between the inside or southerly part of this walk and the adjoining planking. There was another depression between the outside or northerly part of the walk and the planking, which extended in from the outside or track side of the walk for a distance of two feet or more. This last mentioned depression with which we are now concerned was almost eighteen inches wide, and looked like a place where "the dirt was gouged away like it had been washed out." For a number of years water would settle in this place after a storm. The edge of the planking at this place projected "a very good one and one half or one and three quarters inches" above the stone dust walk.

The plaintiff was upon the premises at the implied invitation of the defendants with respect to the transaction of a matter in which both parties had a mutual interest. He was a business visitor travelling along the platform which had been constructed and maintained for the use of those who came upon the premises to deal with the defendants with reference to a matter connected with the commercial enterprise conducted there by the defendants. Bradford v. Boston & Maine Railroad, 160 Mass. 392 . Murr v. Boston & Maine Railroad, 204 Mass. 74 . Levesque v. American Railway Express Co. 258 Mass. 315 . Fournier v. New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, 286 Mass. 7. Ward v. Boston Terminal Co. 286 Mass. 517 .

The defendants owed the plaintiff the duty of exercising care to keep the...

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6 cases
  • Collins v. Croteau
    • United States
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    • January 28, 1948
    ...316 Mass. 467, 55 N.E.2d 765;Hayes v. Boston Fish Market Corp., 319 Mass. 556, 66 N.E.2d 713;Esau v. Trustees of New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co., 321 Mass. 330, 73 N.E.2d 257. The declaration contained a single count alleging that the defendants were joint tortfeasors. It was un......
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