Federal Ins. Co. v. Public Service Co., No. C-1093

Docket NºNo. C-1093
Citation194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239
Case DateSeptember 26, 1977
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Page 239

570 P.2d 239
194 Colo. 107
FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Sentinel Publishing Company,
Inc., the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company,
Transamerica Insurance Company, Kelley Brothers Rewind
Company, d/b/a H & M Electric Motor Service, Marvin L.
Miller, Wanda O. Miller, Mesa Feed & Farm Supply Co., Grain
Dealers Mutual Insurance Company, Colorado Farm Bureau
Mutual Insurance Co., and Insurance Company of North
America, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
The PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY of Colorado, Defendant-Appellee.
No. C-1093.
Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.
Sept. 26, 1977.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 31, 1977.

[194 Colo. 108] Traylor, Palo, Cowan & Arnold, Charles J. Traylor, Davis L. McKinley, Grand Junction, for plaintiffs-appellants, Sentinel Pub. Co., Inc., The St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Transamerica Ins. Co., Kelley Brothers Rewind Co., d/b/a H & M Elec. Motor

Page 240

Service, Marvin L. Miller and Wanda O. Miller, and co-counsel for Federal Ins. Co.

Cummins, White & Breidenbach, James O. White, James R. Robie, Los Angeles, Cal., for plaintiff-appellant Federal Ins. Co.

Graham & Dufford, Hugh D. Wise, Grand Junction, for plaintiffs-appellants, Mesa Feed & Farm Supply Co., Grain Dealers Mut. Ins. Co., Colo. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., and Ins. Co. of North America.

Kelly, Stansfield & O'Donnell, Richard W. Bryans, Denver, Younge, Hockensmith, Griffin, Robb & Rider, James M. Robb, James S. Casebolt, Grand Junction, for defendant-appellee, The Public Service Co. of Colo.

ERICKSON, Justice.

We granted certiorari prior to judgment in the court of appeals to review the judgment entered against appellants in favor of appellee, Public Service Company of Colorado (Public Service). C.A.R. 50. We reverse. The only issue addressed in this opinion is whether the trial court erred in [194 Colo. 109] refusing to give certain jury instructions tendered by appellants concerning the standard of care by which Public Service's conduct was to be judged.

On April 9, 1974, electrical "arcing" was observed at the Mesa Feed & Farm Supply Company in Grand Junction. Public Service responded to an emergency call be sending a crew to the Mesa Feed location. Shortly thereafter, a unit of the Grand Junction fire department arrived at the scene. A Public Service supervisor told the fire chief that everything was under control. He advised the fire chief that the power to the building had been shut off and said that there was no need for the firemen to enter the building. Both the firemen and the Public Service crew then left the scene. Thirty minutes later, a fire was observed at the Mesa Feed building. Efforts to contain the fire were unsuccessful, and the fire spread to the buildings of the other appellants.

The appellants filed suit against Public Service to recover for the property damage caused by the fire. Trial to a jury resulted in a verdict in favor of defendant Public Service. After appellant's motion for a new trial was denied, a notice of appeal was filed in the court of appeals. Appellants simultaneously petitioned this court for a writ of certiorari, which was granted. C.A.R. 50, 51.

The trial court's refusal to give plaintiffs' Instructions A, B, D, and E is assigned as error. Instructions A and E were substantially similar and stated that a company engaged in furnishing electricity must exercise the highest skill and most consummate care, caution, and foresight according to the best known methods of the state of the art. Instruction B stated that an electric company is presumed to possess special knowledge and skill in electricity which it must utilize for the protection of its patrons. Instruction D stated that in determining whether a person has exercised reasonable care and caution, the jury must be aware that the required care increases as the danger increases; that when a business is by its nature perilous, as is the transmission of electricity, the duty of those conducting and supplying it is to exercise the utmost care.

Instead of instructing the jury in accordance with the tendered instructions, the trial court submitted Colorado Jury Instruction (CJI) 9:3 to the jury, which provides:

"Reasonable Care Defined

"Reasonable care is that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances."

The following explanation was given for refusing the appellants' instructions:

"The court has refused A and B, the...

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53 practice notes
  • Smith v. Home Light and Power Co., No. 85SC39
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 30, 1987
    ...Electric Co. v. Simpson, 21 Colo. 371, 376-77, 41 P. 499, 501 (1895). Page 1059 Accord Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); Blankette v. Public Service Co., 90 Colo. 456, 10 P.2d 327 (1932). The jury in the present case was properly instructed as ......
  • Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. v. Heath, No. 83SA293
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • July 7, 1986
    ...the Colorado Jury Instructions are not to be used if they do not reflect the prevailing law. Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); see C.R.C.P. 51.1. CJI-Civ.2d, General Directions for Use 2 This same theory was advanced in Ortho's motion for a dir......
  • Pizza v. Wolf Creek Ski Development Corp., No. 83SA62
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • December 2, 1985
    ...activities. See Blue Flame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, 679 P.2d 579 (Colo.1984) (propane gas); Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977) (electricity); Hook v. Lakeside Park Co., 142 Colo. 277, 351 P.2d 261 (1960) (amusement device). We In Federal Insurance......
  • Blueflame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, Nos. 82SC52
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 12, 1984
    ...of its business under the known methods and the present state of the particular art." Accord Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); 10 Blankette v. Public Service Co., 90 Colo. 456, 10 P.2d 327 (1932). There are other substances that, due to the gra......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
53 cases
  • Smith v. Home Light and Power Co., No. 85SC39
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 30, 1987
    ...Electric Co. v. Simpson, 21 Colo. 371, 376-77, 41 P. 499, 501 (1895). Page 1059 Accord Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); Blankette v. Public Service Co., 90 Colo. 456, 10 P.2d 327 (1932). The jury in the present case was properly instructed as ......
  • Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. v. Heath, No. 83SA293
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • July 7, 1986
    ...the Colorado Jury Instructions are not to be used if they do not reflect the prevailing law. Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); see C.R.C.P. 51.1. CJI-Civ.2d, General Directions for Use 2 This same theory was advanced in Ortho's motion for a dir......
  • Pizza v. Wolf Creek Ski Development Corp., No. 83SA62
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • December 2, 1985
    ...activities. See Blue Flame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, 679 P.2d 579 (Colo.1984) (propane gas); Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977) (electricity); Hook v. Lakeside Park Co., 142 Colo. 277, 351 P.2d 261 (1960) (amusement device). We In Federal Insurance......
  • Blueflame Gas, Inc. v. Van Hoose, Nos. 82SC52
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 12, 1984
    ...of its business under the known methods and the present state of the particular art." Accord Federal Insurance Co. v. Public Service Co., 194 Colo. 107, 570 P.2d 239 (1977); 10 Blankette v. Public Service Co., 90 Colo. 456, 10 P.2d 327 (1932). There are other substances that, due to the gra......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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