Exton v. Cent. R. Co. of N.J.

Decision Date09 February 1899
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court

(Syllabus by the Court.)

Action by Joseph H. Exton and Fanny P. Exton, his wife, against the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. Verdict for plaintiffs. Rule to show cause why verdict should not be set aside. Rule discharged.

Argued February term, 1898, before MAGIE, C. J., and LIPPINCOTT, LUDLOW, and GUMMERE, JJ.

Paul A. Queen and H. B. Herr, for plaintiffs.

George H. Large and John L. Conover, for defendant.

LIPPINCOTT, J. This is an action by Joseph H. Exton and Fanny P. Exton, his wife, against the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey, to recover damages for personal injuries to Mrs. Exton and resulting damages to her husband. The declaration contains two counts,—one averring damages to the wife for her personal injuries, and the other for resulting damages to her husband. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, and awarded the sum of $500 damages to Mr. Exton, and the sum of $1,750 to Mrs. Exton.

It was not contended upon the argument that the damages were excessive. An examination of the evidence as to this question does not reveal any misapplication of the law by the jury in its award of damages. The facts of the case fully warrant the verdict as to the amounts awarded.

The only discussion is whether, upon the evidence in the cause, upon the application of proper principles of law, the jury could determine, as they did, that liability of the defendant to respond in damages existed. The undisputed facts are that on November 23, 1893, Mrs. Exton was on her way from Brooklyn, where she had been making a visit, to her home at Highbridge, in this state. She proceeded to the Central Railroad depot or passenger station on West street, at the foot of Liberty street, in the city of New York. She entered the waiting room in which the ticket office is located, and purchased her ticket. The main waiting room and entrance to the ferry across Hudson river to the train in Jersey City lie further inside. Her trunk was in the baggage room, and, after she had purchased her ticket, she went out of one of the doors of this waiting room, upon the passageway to the baggage room or the window thereof, in order to have her baggage checked. As she proceeded along this passageway, and when near the window of the baggage room, she saw two men scuffling on or near the passageway. Instantaneously, she was run against or backed against by one of these men, and knocked down and injured. She says at the moment she saw them she was knocked down and injured, and in this assertion she is not contradicted. They were just inside an offset of the building, at the window or entrance to the baggage room, and she was knocked down just as she turned the corner of this offset, and it was only at that moment that she saw the men. It appears from the evidence that the passageway is a board walk or plank or platform about four feet wide. Outside of this is also a stone walk three feet wide. This walk ran along in front of the passenger station leading from the waiting room or ticket office to the baggage room, a little to the south of the waiting room. The baggage room sets a little back from the outside line of the passenger station or waiting room, and there a recess angle or offset is created. It was just at this recess, near the window, that the scuffling of the men and the knocking down of Mrs. Exton took place. Over these spaces in front, and extending further out, is a roof, supported, nearer the outward edge thereof, by iron columns or supports. There is no dispute in this case that this board walkway is usually used by passengers to get their baggage checked after the purchase of their tickets, or before they go to the inside or main waiting room, on their way to the ferryboats, to cross the river. The evidence also shows that the maintenance and care of this walk belongs to the defendant company as a part of its depot or station. The evidence also is undisputed that she was knocked down by reason of the scuffling of two hackmen on this walk. One of them stepped or jumped backwards, while engaged in the scuffle, and knocked her down. This was at or very near the angle of the walk, at the baggage room window or entrance. The cabmen engaged in this scuffle were in no sense the servants or employes of the defendant. They were engaged in waiting for passengers and baggage from incoming trains, for transportation to their destination in New York City or elsewhere.

Evidence was admitted by the trial justice, over objection by the defendant, that numerous cabmen and hackmen, including the two engaged in this scuffle, with the knowledge and permission of the officers and employés of the defendant, for a long time previously to the accident, perhaps ever since the erection of the ferry entrance or depot, had been in the habit of taking their stand near the entrance to the depot, upon these walks, and under the space roofed, for the purposes of their trade, in soliciting the carriage of passengers and baggage in their cabs and hacks. This evidence is undisputed. Evidence was also admitted, over objection, and on the defense denied, that very frequently, and covering considerable space of time, previous to the occurrence of this accident, these cabmen and hackmen, including the two engaged in the scuffle, on this walkway, and in its immediate vicinity, had indulged in scuffling of a kindred character to that which caused the injury to Mrs. Exton. Many passengers had observed it on their way to the ferry entrance and to the baggage room, and some passengers had been annoyed and incommoded, if not injured, thereby. There is evidence in the case tending to show that the general passenger agent of the defendant had been notified by one or more of the passengers of this state of affairs, and that other of the employés of the defendant had actual knowledge of these occurrences.

This evidence was properly admitted to the jury—First, as tending to show the dangers connected with the use of this way to the baggage room, of which Mrs. Exton could have no previous notice or knowledge, and of the character of the danger, it being such as that its existence could not be previously observed by any passenger in the use of the walk; and, secondly, as tending to show that the servants of the defendant in charge of the station had knowledge of these occurrences and dangers on that walkway, or should have had knowledge of them in the exercise of reasonable care to guard its passengers against accidents and injury from situations of danger likely to arise while under its care. The evidence was admissible for the jury to reach a conclusion whether this scuffling, in short, was a danger, to which passengers were subjected, of such frequent and notorious occurrence that a reasonable inference could be drawn that the defendant, through its employes in charge of the depot, did have, or should have had, knowledge of the dangers there existing, or should reasonably have anticipated them, and whether they were such that the defendant should guard against, and whether, in failing to do so, it was guilty of such negligence as rendered it liable to passengers injured thereby. That this class of evidence is admissible cannot now be controverted. Evidence to show existing dangers, their continuance, their notoriety, and whether observable to the plaintiff or defendant, is admissible, in the aspects which a case of this character presents, both in reason and upon...

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  • Goldberg v. Housing Authority of City of Newark
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • December 3, 1962
    ...Common carriers have a duty to use a high degree of care to protect the persons of their patrons. In Exton v. Central R.R. Co., 62 N.J.L. 7, 42 A. 486, 56 L.R.A. 508 (Sup.Ct.1898), affirmed o.b., 63 N.J.L. 356, 46 A. 1099, 56 L.R.A. 508 (E. & A. 1899), the railroad knew of prior scuffling b......
  • Tormo v. Yormark, Civ. A. No. 298-73.
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    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • May 12, 1975
    ...injuries caused by the foreseeable intentional mischief of employees, other passengers, and thugs. See, e. g., Exton v. Central R.R. Co., 62 N.J.L. 7, 42 A. 486 (Sup.Ct.1898), aff'd 63 N.J.L. 356, 46 A. 1099 (E. & A. 1899); Skillen v. West Jersey & Seashore R.R. Co., 96 N.J.L. 492, 115 A. 3......
  • Clohesy v. Food Circus Supermarkets, Inc.
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    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 26, 1997
    ...which may, under the circumstances, fairly and justly entail the employment of special guards or police. See Exton v. Central R.R. Co., 62 N.J.L. 7, 11 (Sup.Ct. 1898), aff'd. 63 N.J.L. 356 (E. & A. 1899); Skillen v. West Jersey & Seashore R.R. Co., 96 N.J.L. 492, 494 (E. & A.1921); Sandler ......
  • Mayer v. Housing Authority of Jersey City, A--653
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • June 30, 1964
    ...is to say of recognizable danger of injury.' * * *' (25 N.J., at pp. 461, 462, 136 A.2d, at p. 894.) In Exton v. Central R.R. Co., 62 N.J.L. 7, 42 A. 486, 56 L.R.A. 508 (Sup.Ct.1898), affirmed o.b. 63 N.J.L. 356, 46 A. 1099, 56 L.R.A. 508 (E. & A. 1899), the railroad operated a passenger te......
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