Fulghum v. Bleakley, No. 14122.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtSTABLER, Chief Justice
Citation181 S.E. 30
PartiesFULGHUM. v. BLEAKLEY.
Decision Date08 August 1935
Docket NumberNo. 14122.

181 S.E. 30

FULGHUM.
v.
BLEAKLEY.

No. 14122.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Aug. 8, 1935.


[181 S.E. 30]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Edgefield County; C. J. Ramage, Judge.

Action by Benjamin C. Fulghum against Arthur Bleakley. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals.

Affirmed.

T. B. Greneker, of Edgefield, and Bussey & Fulcher, of Augusta, Ga., for appellant.

Pierce Brothers, of Augusta, Ga., and J. Strom Thurmond, of Edgefield, for respondent.

STABLER, Chief Justice.

On August 20, 1933, the plaintiff, Fulghum, was traveling, as an invited guest without the payment of any fare, in the automobile of the defendant, Bleakley, from the Bath Lake in South Carolina to Augusta, Ga. Just south of Clearwater, within this state, while descending a hill, the machine in which they were riding ran into the back of another car, and as a result of the collision Fulghum sustained severe personal injuries. This action was then brought for damages for the injuries so received; it being alleged that the heedless and reckless acts of Blcakley, in the driving of his automobile, were the direct and proximate cause thereof. In due time on trial of the case, the defendant moved for a directed verdict on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to establish his right to recover under the statute controlling in an action of this kind, as the evidence did "not show that the injury was intentional on the part of the defendant, or caused by his heedlessness or reckless disregard of the rights of others." The

[181 S.E. 31]

court overruled the motion, and the jury found for the plaintiff $500. From judgment duly entered, this appeal is taken.

The act referred to, now appearing as section 5908 of the Code of 1932, and under which this action was brought, was passed by the Legislature in 1930 (36 St. at Large, p. 1164), section 1 of which reads as follows: "No person transported by the owner or operator of a motor vehicle as his guest without payment for such transportation shall have a cause of action for damages against such automobile, its owner or operator for injury, death or loss, in case of accident unless such accident shall have been intentional on the part of said owner or operator or caused by his heedlessness or his reckless disregard of the rights of others."

It appears that the first guest statute, of which ours is an exact copy, was passed by the Legislature of Connecticut in 1927 (Pub. Acts 1927, c. 308) and had been construed by the Supreme Court of Errors of that state before its adoption and enactment by the lawmaking body of South Carolina. In Silver v. Silver, 108 Conn. 371, 143 A. 240, 241, 65 A. L. R. 943, decided in 1928, the court fully discussed the purpose of the Legislature in the enactment of the statute, and pointed out that it had been previously held in that jurisdiction, in line with the weight of authority elsewhere, that the owner of an automobile, who invited a guest to ride with him was bound to exercise only ordinary or reasonable care in the operation of the vehicle. It then said:

"It is the contention of the plaintiff that the statute effects no change in the liability of the owner or operator to his guest, and that the former is still liable if the accident is caused by his 'heedlessness, ' which the plaintiff claims is the equivalent in meaning of carelessness or negligence. * * * The question for our consideration, however, is not the meaning of a single word in an abstract sense, but its meaning with due regard to its context and the meaning of the entire phrase or sentence in which it appears. We must assume that the Legislature was familiar with the decisions of this court permitting a recovery by a guest in an automobile for injuries resulting from the negligence of the owner or operator, and that, when it undertook to legislate upon that subject, it was with the purpose of making some change in the existing law. City of Stamford v. Stam ford, 107 Conn. 596, 141 A. [891] 895. Such purpose is pretty clearly indicated in the title of the act and in the first clause of the first section, which provides that no guest shall have a cause of action against the owner or operator of the car in case of accident. Then follows a statement of the exceptions to the general rule: 'Unless such accident shall have been intentional on the part of said owner or operator or caused by his heedlessness or his reckless disregard of the rights of others.'

"If the phrase 'or caused by his heedlessness' is to be taken as strictly disjunctive as by itself constituting an exception to the general rule of nonliability, and 'heedlessness' is held to be synonymous with 'negligence, ' the entire statute is nugatory and effects no change whatever in the law as it existed before its enactment. We do not think that is a sensible construction of the statute. It would utterly fail to effectuate the obvious purpose of the Legislature in some way to limit the liability of the owner or operator of a motor vehicle to one who was riding in it as his guest. The language of the statute indicates an intention to limit such liability to two classes of cases: First,...

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47 practice notes
  • Johnson v. Hassett, No. 8968
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • March 29, 1974
    ...v. Ganiere, 149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009 (1935); Smith v. Williams, 51 Ohio App. 464, 1 N.E.2d 643 (1935); Fulghum v. Bleakley, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30 (1935); Shea v. Olson, 185 Wash. 143, 53 P.2d 615 (1936); Gallegher v. Davis, 37 Del. 380, 183 A. 620 (1936); Roberson v. Roberson, 193 Ark.......
  • Williamson v. McKenna
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • August 10, 1960
    ...the Connecticut decisions in construing the South Carolina statute (Code 1952, § 46-801). Fulghum v. Bleakley, 1935, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30. South Carolina has continued to interpret its statute to restrict liability to cases where the injury has resulted from either intentional or reckl......
  • Keasling v. Thompson, No. 56364
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 24, 1974
    ...149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009, 'intentional or gross negligence or intoxication'; South Carolina: Fulghum v. Bleakley (1935), 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30, 'intentional or heedless'; Texas: Campbell v. Paschall (1938), 132 Tex. 226, 121 S.W.2d 593, 'intentional or heedless'; and Washington: Shea v......
  • Justice v. Gatchell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Delaware
    • August 13, 1974
    ...Williams, 51 Ohio App. 464, 1 N.E.2d 643 (1935); Perozzi v. Ganiere, 149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009 (1935); Fulghum v. Bleakley, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30 (1935); Campbell v. Paschall, 132 Tex. 226, 121 S.W.2d 593 (1938); Shea v. Olson, 185 Wash. 143, 53 P.2d 615 (1936); Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • Johnson v. Hassett, No. 8968
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • March 29, 1974
    ...v. Ganiere, 149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009 (1935); Smith v. Williams, 51 Ohio App. 464, 1 N.E.2d 643 (1935); Fulghum v. Bleakley, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30 (1935); Shea v. Olson, 185 Wash. 143, 53 P.2d 615 (1936); Gallegher v. Davis, 37 Del. 380, 183 A. 620 (1936); Roberson v. Roberson, 193 Ark.......
  • Williamson v. McKenna
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • August 10, 1960
    ...the Connecticut decisions in construing the South Carolina statute (Code 1952, § 46-801). Fulghum v. Bleakley, 1935, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30. South Carolina has continued to interpret its statute to restrict liability to cases where the injury has resulted from either intentional or reckl......
  • Keasling v. Thompson, No. 56364
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 24, 1974
    ...149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009, 'intentional or gross negligence or intoxication'; South Carolina: Fulghum v. Bleakley (1935), 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30, 'intentional or heedless'; Texas: Campbell v. Paschall (1938), 132 Tex. 226, 121 S.W.2d 593, 'intentional or heedless'; and Washington: Shea v......
  • Justice v. Gatchell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Delaware
    • August 13, 1974
    ...Williams, 51 Ohio App. 464, 1 N.E.2d 643 (1935); Perozzi v. Ganiere, 149 Or. 330, 40 P.2d 1009 (1935); Fulghum v. Bleakley, 177 S.C. 286, 181 S.E. 30 (1935); Campbell v. Paschall, 132 Tex. 226, 121 S.W.2d 593 (1938); Shea v. Olson, 185 Wash. 143, 53 P.2d 615 (1936); Naudzius v. Lahr, 253 Mi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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