fornea v. Goodyear Yellow Pine Co.

Decision Date21 February 1938
Docket Number33004
Citation181 Miss. 50,178 So. 914
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Division B


Parties may make contracts not prohibited by law in matters affecting their business and civil rights.


Generally party signing written contract is controlled by its terms and it cannot be varied or contradicted by parol evidence.


Generally, party signing written contract may not excuse himself from its effect because of his failure to read it or to become acquainted with its contents.

4. CONTRACTS. Evidence.

Where written contract is procured by false representations or fraud committed by one party on the other on which such other party may reasonably rely, defrauded party may show true facts and contract will be avoided, since, in legal contemplation, no contract exists which is procured by fraud.


In action for injuries to employee in sawmill, conflicting evidence as to whether employee executed written releases to employer with knowledge of their contents and without collusion or fraud supported verdict denying recovery.


Every person is presumed to know the law, and, in absence of some misrepresentation or illegal concealment of facts, one must abide the consequences of his contracts and actions.


One cannot be released from the consequences of his acts merely because he has not acted prudently or diligently about his contracts or other matters.


The benefits of the privileged communication statute may be waived by contract before trial (Code 1930, section 1536).


In action for injuries to employee in sawmill, testimony of physician who treated employee immediately after accident was admissible over employee's objection, where employee had executed contract waiving benefits of privileged communication statute on entering employment (Code 1930, section 1536).


APPEAL from the circuit court of Pearl River county HON. HARVEY McGEHEE, Judge.

Suit by T. C. Fornea against Goodyear Yellow Pine Company and others, for injuries received while plaintiff was employed in named defendant's sawmill. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.


Hathorn & Williams, of Poplarville, and Grayson B. Keaton, of Picayune, for appellant.

On the evidence the trial court properly submitted to the jury, by plaintiff's instruction No. 3, the question of the validity of the purported release.

Dana v. G. &. S. I. R. R., 64 So. 214; Randolph Lbr. Co. v. Shaw, 174 Miss. 297, 164 So. 587; Huff v. Bear Creek Mill Co., 116 Miss. 509, 77 So. 306; Kansas City Ry. v. Chiles, 38 So. 498.

The case of Randolph Lumber Company v. Shaw, supra, is practically on all fours with the case at bar. In that case the release recited that appellee had settled, compromised and released appellant from liability for the consideration of $ 16. A copy of the purported release was attached as an exhibit to a special plea filed by appellant. Appellee filed two replications, one to said special plea and one to appellant's rejoinder, by which it was affirmatively pleaded that the release mentioned was obtained on the representations that the $ 16 mentioned in the release was for half time and that the release was a receipt therefor. On the trial of the case appellee testified that he did not read the release and that he was relying on the statement that it was only a receipt for half time and that it was necessary for him to sign it to return to the employment of the company, and that nothing was said to him about it being a release. Mr. Justice Ethridge rendered the opinion in this Randolph case and held that the evidence above mentioned was sufficient to avoid the release set up by defendant in its special plea.

It conclusively appears that there was no meeting of the minds of the parties upon a settlement for the injury to appellant's back, which is the injury sued for in this case. It necessarily follows that the release was not intended to cover and did not cover the injury to appellant's back for which he sued in this case.

Beddingfield v. N. O. & N.E. R. R. Co., 70 So. 402; Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Dashiell, 198 U.S. 521, 49 L.Ed. 1150; Railroad Co. v. Cauthen, 241 P. 188, 48 A.L.R. 1447.

A mutual mistake of fact should justify the rescission of a release, executed under the belief that injuries are trivial and temporary, when as a matter of fact they are serious and permanent in their nature, where it appears that the purpose of the release was to compensate for apparent injuries, known injuries, and that serious or permanent injuries were not contemplated by the parties at the time of the execution of the agreement or release, although in its terms the agreement or release is broad enough to cover all injuries resulting from the particular incident.

Railroad Co. v. Cauthen, 241 P. 188, 48 A.L.R. 1447; Lion Oil & Ref. Co. v. Albritton, 21 F.2d 280; Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Dashiell, 198 U.S. 521, 49 L.Ed. 1150.

A court of law has jurisdiction to avoid a release for personal injuries on the ground of mutual mistake.

Bean v. Western North Carolina R. Co., 107 N.C. 731, 12 S.E. 600; Reddington v. Blue, 168 Iowa 34, 149 N.W. 933; O'Meara v. Haiden, 204 Cal. 354, 268 P. 334, 60 A.L.R. 1381; Clark v. Northern P. R. Co., 36. N. D. 503, 162 N.W. 406; Sun Oil Co. v. Hedge, 173 Ark. 729, 293 S.W. 9.

The most that can be said of the bonus agreement and bonus check and pink slip statements is that they were evidence going to the credibility of appellant's testimony and claim that he received the injuries sued for herein, and they constituted neither a bar to his cause of action sued on, nor release therefrom, nor an estoppel against appellant from claiming damages in this suit on account of said injuries.

There was no consideration for the execution of these documents as a release from the injury, and any references therein to previous injuries were merely unsworn statements by appellant, going alone to the credibility of his testimony, and not constituting a bar to his cause of action sued on herein.

Y. & M. V. R. R. Co. v. Decker, 116 So. 287; Miss. P. & L. v. Smith, 153 So. 376; Newton v. Homochitto Lbr. Co., 138 So. 565; Bacot v. Hazlehurst Lbr. Co., 23 So. 481; Supreme Lodge K. P. v. Beck, 181 U.S. 49, 45 L.Ed. 741; Burrill v. Rau, 121 So. 118; Natural Gas Corp. v. Bazor, 137 So. 788; Miss. Power Co. v. Bennett, 161 So. 302; Miss. Valley Mtr. Co. v. Childress, 156 Miss. 157, 15 So. 708.

The trial court erred in admitting in evidence over the objection of appellant the document purporting to be a general waiver of the privilege communication statute

These contracts reveal an effort on the part of appellees to relieve themselves, without consideration therefor, from their acts of negligence and injuries to appellant prior to the signing of said bonus agreement and thereafter.

I. C. R. R. Co. v. Harris, 67 So. 54.

Surely the laborers of this state, who constitute such a large and meritorious class of the citizens of the state, are entitled to the protection of each and every law vouchsafed to the other citizens of the state. And we do not believe that this court will place the stamp of approval on this carefully worked out scheme of appellee, Goodyear Yellow Pine Company, to require of its employees, as a condition to employment, the surrender of rights which other citizens of the state enjoy.

This court has repeatedly held that where a written contract is procured through fraud none of the provisions of the contract are binding upon the defrauded party, even though it was read and signed by him, and has a provision therein that the contract contains all the stipulations entered into between the parties.

Wren v. Hoffman, 41 Miss. 616; Hirschburg Optical Co. v. Jackson & Co., 63 Miss. 21; Nash Valley Motor Co. v. Childress, 125 So. 789; Henry v. W. T. Rawleigh Co., 120 So. 188; Fay & Egan v. Cohn Bros., 130 So. 290; Heckler v. R. R. Co., 128 So. 325.

Appellant had a right to rely on the representations of appellees with reference to these documents, and the fact that he did not read them or may have had the opportunity to read them, in no way affected his right to show they were procured through fraud and were for that reason void.

Bennett v. Miss. Power Co., 161 So. 301; 12 R. C. L. 411, 27 R. C. L. 904; Brown v. Norman, 4 So. 293; Lake v. Perry, 49 So. 569; Lion Oil & Ref. Co. v. Albritton, 21 F.2d 280.

H. H. Parker, of Poplarville, and Heidelberg & Roberts, of Hattiesburg, for appellees.

It is our contention that the evidence offered by the appellant herein before the trial court was not that clear. and convincing evidence that must be produced to upset a release.

A. & V. R. R. Co. v. Kropp, 92 So. 691, 129 Miss. 616.

A person cannot avoid a written contract which he has entered into, on the ground that he did not read it, or have it read to him and that he supposed its terms were different, unless he was induced not to read it or have it read to him by fraudulent representations made to him by the other party, on which he was entitled to rely.

Continental Jewelry Co. v. Joseph, 140 Miss. 582, 105 So. 639; Gunter v. Henderson Molpus Co., 115 So. 720, 149 Miss. 603.

There are a great many authorities dealing with general releases of the nature here presented to the court. We desire to call some of these authorities to the court's attention in view of our position that the release of May 22, 1935, is a bar to recovery on behalf of appellant, Fornea, and this in the absence of any question respecting the decision of the jury.

Dunlap v. Petrie, 35 Miss. 590; A. & V. R. R. Co. v Turnbull, 71 Miss. 1029, 16...

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