Ford v. Atl. Coast Line R. Co, No. 13405.

CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMENDEL L. SMITH
Citation168 S.E. 143
PartiesFORD . v. ATLANTIC COAST LINE R. CO. et al.
Decision Date11 May 1932
Docket NumberNo. 13405.

168 S.E. 143

FORD .
v.
ATLANTIC COAST LINE R. CO. et al.

No. 13405.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

May 11, 1932.


[168 S.E. 144]

W.H.GRIMABALL and S.W.G.SHIPP, Circult Judge, dissenting.

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Clarendon County; M. L. Bonham, Judge.

Action by Katherine H. Ford against the Atlantic Coast Bine Railroad Company and another. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendants appeal.

Affirmed.

Affirmed in 287 U. S. 502, 53 S. Ct. 249, 77 L. Ed.——

Defendants' requests to charge, charge given, and exceptions, directed to be reported, are as follows:

Defendants' Requests to Charge.

1. There is no presumption that anyone has violated a criminal law such as the crossing statute in this case, but there is on the contrary a presumption of innocence and the burden is on the plaintiff of proving that the statute was violated.

2. A violation of the crossing statute being a criminal offense, not only is there no presumption that It was violated, but evidence of its violation must be sufficient to prove same beyond a reasonable doubt to entitle plaintiff to a verdict for damages for such violation.

3. It appears from the evidence that the train involved in the collision in this case was engaged in the transportation of interstate mail and interstate passengers, and was therefore as a matter of law engaged in interstate commerce. I charge you that the rights and obligations of a traveler on a highway approaching a grade crossing of a railroad and of a train engaged in interstate commerce approaching such crossing are such that the traveler can have no higher rights than the railroad company in the operation of such interstate commerce train. The Supreme Court of the United States has laid down these duties in these words: "When a man goes upon a railroad track he knows that he goes to a place where he will be killed if a train comes upon him before he is clear

[168 S.E. 145]

of the track. He knows that he must stop for the train not the train stop for him. In such circumstances it seems to us that if a driver cannot he sure otherwise whether a train is dangerously near he must stop and get out of his vehicle, although obviously he will not often be required to do more than to stop and look. It seems to us that if he relies upon not hearing the train or any signal and takes no further precaution he does so at his own risk. * * * We are dealing with a standard of conduct, and when the standard is clear it should be laid down once for all by the Courts." Baltimore & O. R. Co. v. Goodman, 275 U. S. 66, 48 S. Ct. 24, 25, 72 L. Ed. 167, 56 A. L. R. 645.

I charge you that this statement of the law is applicable to the facts of this case, and if you find the plaintiff did not take the proper precautions as laid down by the Supreme Court of the United States, your verdict must be for the defendants.

4. I charge you that under a proper construction of sections 4903 and 4925 of volume 3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, the failure to give at the highway crossing involved in this suit the signals required thereby (if there be such failure) affords no presumption whatever that such failure was the proximate cause of the collision between the automobile in which plaintiff was riding and the train of the defendant railroad company, but plaintiff must prove what was the proximate cause of such collision and that the defendants were responsible therefor.

5. I charge you that under a proper construction of sections 4903 and 4925 of volume 3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, as soon as the railroad company introduced evidence rebutting plaintiff's evidence that the signals required thereby were not properly given for the crossing involved in this suit, the temporary inference of fact arising from plaintiff's evidence completely vanished from the case and there is now no presumption whatever that the collision was caused by the negligence of the defendants as a proximate cause thereof, and it is incumbent on plaintiff to prove what was the proximate cause of such collision and that the defendants were responsible therefor.

6. I charge you that sections 4903 and 4925 of volume 3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, commonly known as the crossing statute, in their operation upon railroad companies engaged in interstate commerce impose an unlawful burden upon such commerce and are therefore void under section S, article 1 of the Constitution of the United States.

7. I charge you that sections 4903 and 4925 of volume 3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, commonly known as the crossing Statute; are unconstitutional, null and void in that they deny to the defendant railroad company the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

8. I charge you that sections 4903 and 4925 of volume 3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, commonly known as the crossing statute, are unconstitutional, null and void in that they deprive the defendant railroad company of its property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

All of these requests were refused by the court except the first.

Judge's Charge to the Jury.

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen of the Jury: I have been struck with the exemplary patience and close attention that you have given to this case and the facts as they have been developed by the evidence. It is always gratifying when jurors show an intelligent interest in the evidence, because the law of South Carolina makes you the sole judges of that evidence; the sole judges of the facts, the truth or want of truth of the testimony. I am not allowed to intimate to you any opinion that I may have along that line; that is your province, your especial province under the Constitution of our State. That same law makes me the sole judge of the law of the case. I can't invade your territory, nor can you invade mine. You take the law just as I give it to you. The difference between your province and mine is that if I make an error in declaring the law to you, there is a higher court that will correct me, but your findings as to the facts are conclusive.

This is an action in damages. The plaintiff, by her complaint, seeks to recover damages in the sum of $25,000.00 from the defendants, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company and W. M. Smith, for injuries which she alleges she has suffered through the negligence, wilfulness, recklessness and wantonness of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company and W. M. Smith, its agent, employee and servant.

The special allegations of this complaint are that on the 4th day of March, 1928, the plaintiff and her husband, George G. Ford —the plaintiff being Katherine H. Ford— were driving along the highway in your county, and that at a point between Manning and Alcolu, where the highway crosses the track of the defendant railroad company, the automobile in which they were riding was struck by the engine and train of the railroad company, and that the plaintiff suffered bodily injuries which she alleges she sustained herein.

Now, she alleges that her injuries were due to the negligence, wilfulness, recklessness and wantonness of the defendants in that they didn't give the signals required by law, to wit: the ringing of the bell or the blowing

[168 S.E. 146]

of the whistle continuously until The train had passed the crossing. That in consequence of this negligence, wilfulness, recklessness and wantonness of the defendants, the automobile was struck and knocked into a ditch, and that the plaintiff was thrown through the windshield of the automobile into a large ditch, was knocked unconscious and seriously and painfully injured, the bones in her left knee being separated or fractured, her face and scalp being cut, torn and lacerated and various parts of her body being cut and bruised, and as a result of the separation of the bones of her knee, the cutting, tearing and lacerating of her face and scalp and the cutting and bruising of her body, plaintiff was forced to remain in bed for five weeks and thereafterwards for several months forced to walk on crutches, and she alleges that she has been permanently injured and has permanently lost the full use of her left knee and has suffered, and continues to suffer, great pain and mental anguish, all of which is to the damage of the plaintiff in the sum of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars.

Now, gentlemen, she alleges that the specific acts of negligence, wilfulness, recklessness and wantonness were in the failure of defendant Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company and its agents and servants in charge of the operation of the train to keep a proper lookout; in the failure of defendant Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company and its agents and servants in charge of the operation of the train to stop the same and avoid the collision; in the failure of the defendant Atlantic Coast Line Railroad company, its agents and servants in charge of the operation of said train to stop the same before the plaintiff was thrown from the said Buick automobile; in the failure of the said defendant Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company to have said train equipped with proper brakes or other devices for stopping same; in having said train operated by an incompetent engineer; in the failure of Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company to provide a safe crossing at the place of the collision; in the failure of defendant Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company, its agents and servants in charge of the operation of said train, and particularly on said engine, to give the signals in the manner required by section 4903 of volume 3, Civil Code of South Carolina, for the year 1922.

Now, that is the plaintiff's complaint. I have divested the complaint of much of its legal verbiage and technical language.

Now, the answer admits that it is a corporation, and it also admits that at the time mentioned the plaintiff was riding with her husband in a Buick automobile, and...

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62 practice notes
  • Staubes v. City of Folly Beach, No. 2834.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 27, 1998
    ...486, 427 S.E.2d 654 (1993); Richardson v. Hambright, 296 S.C. 504, 374 S.E.2d 296 (1988); Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R., 169 S.C. 41,168 S.E. 143 (1932), aff'd 287 U.S. 502, 53 S.Ct. 249, 77 L.Ed. 457 (1933); Brooks v. Northwood Little League, Inc., 327 S.C. 400, 489 S.E.2d 647 (Ct.App.1......
  • Jennings v. Mccowan, No. 16228.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 10, 1949
    ...trial judge to submit to the jury the question of punitive damages under the authority of Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co, 169 S.C. 41, 168 S.E. 143, and Bell v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co, 202 S.C. 160, 24 S.E.2d 177. The next question posed by appellants is whether or not the trial judge......
  • Harper v. Harper, No. 669.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 6, 1945
    ...sufficient to carry that issue to the jury. Lumpkin v. Mankin, 136 S.C. 506, 134 S.E. 503; Ford Atlantic Coast Line R. R. Co, 169 S.C. 41, 168 S.E. 143; Ralls v. Saleeby, 178 S.C. 431, 182 S.E. 750. If any testimony is introduced touching or supporting allegations as to the defendant's fail......
  • Alabama Great Southern R. Co. v. Morrison, 6 Div. 49
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 29, 1967
    ...that such failure, contributing to the injury, was the proximate cause thereof. Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 169 S.C. 41, 103, 104, 168 S.E. 143. In holding the proximate cause presumption permissible, the United States Supreme Court '. . .. But the rational connection between the fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
62 cases
  • Staubes v. City of Folly Beach, No. 2834.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 27, 1998
    ...486, 427 S.E.2d 654 (1993); Richardson v. Hambright, 296 S.C. 504, 374 S.E.2d 296 (1988); Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R., 169 S.C. 41,168 S.E. 143 (1932), aff'd 287 U.S. 502, 53 S.Ct. 249, 77 L.Ed. 457 (1933); Brooks v. Northwood Little League, Inc., 327 S.C. 400, 489 S.E.2d 647 (Ct.App.1......
  • Jennings v. Mccowan, No. 16228.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 10, 1949
    ...trial judge to submit to the jury the question of punitive damages under the authority of Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co, 169 S.C. 41, 168 S.E. 143, and Bell v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co, 202 S.C. 160, 24 S.E.2d 177. The next question posed by appellants is whether or not the trial judge......
  • Harper v. Harper, No. 669.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 6, 1945
    ...sufficient to carry that issue to the jury. Lumpkin v. Mankin, 136 S.C. 506, 134 S.E. 503; Ford Atlantic Coast Line R. R. Co, 169 S.C. 41, 168 S.E. 143; Ralls v. Saleeby, 178 S.C. 431, 182 S.E. 750. If any testimony is introduced touching or supporting allegations as to the defendant's fail......
  • Alabama Great Southern R. Co. v. Morrison, 6 Div. 49
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 29, 1967
    ...that such failure, contributing to the injury, was the proximate cause thereof. Ford v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 169 S.C. 41, 103, 104, 168 S.E. 143. In holding the proximate cause presumption permissible, the United States Supreme Court '. . .. But the rational connection between the fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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