Graves v. Northern Pac. Ry. Co.

Decision Date29 June 1917
Citation30 Idaho 542,166 P. 571
PartiesCLIFFORD GRAVES, a Minor, by LEVI HATHAWAY, His Guardian ad Litem, Respondent, v. THE NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY, a Corporation, Appellant
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

RAILWAY CROSSINGS-NEGLIGENCE OF RAILWAY COMPANY-DUTY OF PERSON CROSSING-CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE-BURDEN OF PROOF.

1. The failure of a railway company to comply with the provisions of sec. 2821, Rev. Codes, requiring such company to ring a bell or sound a whistle, when approaching a place where the railroad crosses a street, road, or highway, constitutes negligence per se.

2. A railway corporation is liable for all damages, sustained by any person, caused by its locomotive, trains, or cars, where the provisions of sec. 2821, Rev. Codes, are not complied with, unless the person injured is guilty of contributory negligence.

3. It is the duty of a person crossing a railroad track to exercise such care as would be exercised by a man of ordinary prudence under like circumstances.

4. The presumption is that one, who is killed while attempting to cross a railroad track, was exercising due and proper care for his protection.

5. It is the duty of one about to cross a railroad track to look and listen, but it is not negligence per se to fail to stop and where the facts are disputed the question of contributory negligence is one of fact, to be determined from all the facts and circumstances in evidence.

6. The evidence showed that deceased, who was driving an automobile stopped some distance from the crossing, went to the track looked and listened; drove to within a few feet of the track there stopping to look and listen; proceeded slowly, on the lookout for trains, and was not attempting to make the crossing ahead of the train. Held, sufficient to sustain a finding that deceased was using due care and was not guilty of contributory negligence.

7. Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense, the burden of establishing which, is on the defendant.

[As to duty of traveler, after looking both ways on approaching railroad track, to look again before crossing, see note in Ann.Cas. 1914A, 536]

APPEAL from the District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, for Bonner County. Hon. John M. Flynn, Judge.

Action for damages for death of plaintiff's father and mother. Judgment for plaintiff. Affirmed.

Judgments affirmed. Costs awarded to respondent.

Cannon & Ferris and Sidney H. Smith, for Appellant.

It is the duty of a person about to cross a railway track to stop, look and listen. (Wheeler v. Oregon R. & N. Co., 16 Idaho 375, 102 P. 347.)

Failure to do so is negligence per se. (Burrow v. Idaho etc. R. R., 24 Idaho 652, 135 P. 838.)

A railway company has the right to assume that the traveling public will look and listen for a passing train, and that having looked and listened they will discover the oncoming train and clear the track. (3 Elliott on Railroads, sec. 1095, p. 1648; Hamilton v. Delaware etc. R. R. Co., 50 N.J.L. 263, 13 A. 29; Omaha etc. Ry. Co. v. Talbot, 48 Neb. 627, 67 N.W. 599; Berry v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 48 N.J.L. 141, 4 A. 303; Brommer v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 179 F. 577, 103 C. C. A. 135, 29 L. R. A., N. S., 924.)

The track is itself a warning of danger and the traveler is in all cases under the duty to exercise proper precaution to inform himself as to the proximity of trains before attempting to cross. (3 Elliott on Railroads, 2d ed., sec. 1153, p. 311; Miller v. Terre Haute etc. Ry. Co., 144 Ind. 323, 43 N.E. 257; Jennings v. St. Louis etc. Ry. Co., 112 Mo. 268, 20 S.W. 490; Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Huston, 95 U.S. 697, 24 L.Ed. 542; Carlson v. Chicago etc. R. Co., 96 Minn. 504, 113 Am. St. 655, 105 N.W. 555, 4 L. R. A., N. S., 349; Ernst v. Hudson River R. Co., 35 N.Y. 9, 90 Am. Dec. 761; Northern P. Ry. Co. v. Freeman, 174 U.S. 379, 19 S.Ct. 763, 43 L.Ed. 1014; Elliott v. Chicago etc. R. Co., 150 U.S. 245, 14 S.Ct. 85, 37 L.Ed. 1068.)

The fact that the railway company violated statutes or ordinances is no excuse for negligence of party about to cross the track. (Wheeler v. Oregon Ry. Co., supra; Rumpel v. Oregon Short Line etc. R. Co., 4 Idaho 13, 26, 35 P. 700, 22 L. R. A. 725; Hudson v. R. Co., 101 Mo. 14; Lake Shore etc. R. Co. v. Pinchin, 112 Ind. 592, 13 N.E. 677; Reynolds v. Hindman, 32 Iowa 146; Pennsylvania Co. v. Rathgeb, 32 Ohio St. 66; Krauss v. Walkill Valley R. Co., 69 Hun, 482, 23 N.Y.S. 432.)

Failure to sound bell or blow whistle does not abrogate the doctrine of contributory negligence nor does it give a right of action where the negligence of the plaintiff contributed to or was the proximate cause of the injury. (Carlson v. Chicago Ry., 96 Minn. 504, 113 Am. St. 655, 105 N.W. 555, 4 L. R. A., N. S., 349; Meeks v. Southern P. R. Co., 52 Cal. 602; Green v. Southern Cal. R. Co., 138 Cal. 1, 70 P. 926; Toledo etc. R. Co. v. O'Connor, 77 Ill. 391; Little Rock etc. Ry. Co. v. Wilson, 90 Tenn. 271, 25 Am. St. 693, 16 S.W. 613, 13 L. R. A. 364; Weber v. Kansas City Cable Ry. Co., 100 Mo. 194, 18 Am. St. 541, 12 S.W. 804, 13 S.W. 587, 7 L. R. A. 819; Chicago etc. R. R. Co. v. Huston, 95 U.S. 697, 24 L.Ed. 542; Chicago etc. R. Co. v. Bennett, 181 F. 799, 104 C. C. A. 309.)

The duty of a traveler approaching a railroad track to exercise care to use his eyes and ears, and to prevent injury to himself, in order to avoid the imputation of negligence, is not excused by the failure of those in charge of an approaching train to give the proper and statutory signals. (Griffith v. Baltimore etc. R. Co., 44 F. 574; Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Crawford, 89 Ala. 240, 8 So. 243; Little Rock etc. Ry. Co. v. Cullen, 54 Ark. 431, 16 S.W. 169; Chicago etc. Ry. Co. v. Crisman, 19 Colo. 30, 34 P. 286; Chicago etc. R. Co. v. Lee, 68 Ill. 576; Miller v. Terre Haute etc. Ry. Co., 144 Ind. 323, 43 N.E. 257; Sala v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co., 85 Iowa 678, 52 N.W. 664; Atchison R. Co. v. Townsend, 39 Kan. 115, 17 P. 804; Blackwell v. St. Louis etc. R. Co., 47 La. Ann. 268, 49 Am. St. 371, 16 So. 818; Maryland Cent. R. Co. v. Neubeur, 62 Md. 391; Judson v. Great Northern Ry. Co., 63 Minn. 248, 65 N.W. 447; Caldwell v. Kansas City etc. R. Co., 58 Mo.App. 453; Miller v. New York Cent. etc. R. Co., 81 Hun, 152, 30 N.Y.S. 751; Cleveland C. C. etc. R. Co. v. Elliott, 28 Ohio St. 340; Ormsbee v. Boston & P. R. Corp., 14 R. I. 102, 51 Am. Rep. 354.)

A party about to cross the track must stop, look and listen at a point where it will be effective. (Brommer v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 179 F. 577, 103 C. C. A. 135, 29 L. R. A., N. S., 924; New York Cent. etc. R. R. Co. v. Maidment, 168 F. 23, 93 C. C. A. 413, 21 L. R. A., N. S., 794; Kelsay v. Missouri P. Ry. Co., 129 Mo. 362, 30 S.W. 339; Ladouceur v. Northern P. R. Co., 4 Wash. 38, 29 P. 942; Brown v. Milwaukee & St. P. Ry. Co., 22 Minn. 165; Abbett v. Chicago etc. Ry. Co., 30 Minn. 482, 16 N.W. 266; Nelson v. Duluth etc. Ry. Co., 88 Wis. 392, 60 N.W. 703; Blackburn v. Southern P. Co., 34 Ore. 215, 55 P. 225; 3 Elliott on Railroads, sec. 1166, p. 1775; Owens v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 41 F. 187.)

The fact that the crossing is dangerous requires, as a matter of law, a higher degree of care on the party crossing. (Chicago etc. R. Co. v. Andrews, 130 F. 65, 64 C. C. A. 399; Butterfield v. Western R. Corp., 10 Allen (92 Mass.), 532, 87 Am. Dec. 678; Fletcher v. Fitchburg R. Co., 149 Mass. 127, 21 N.E. 302, 3 L. R. A. 743.)

Obstructions rendering the view obscure and unreliable call for greater caution. (Beyel v. Newport News etc. R. Co., 34 W.Va. 538, 12 S.E. 532; Kinter v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 204 Pa. 497, 93 Am. St. 795, 54 A. 276; Mankewicz v. Lehigh Valley Ry. Co., 214 Pa. 386, 63 A. 604; Railroad Co. v. Smalley, 61 N.J.L. 277, 39 A. 695; Cleveland etc. Ry. Co. v. Wuest, 41 Ind.App. 210, 83 N.E. 620, 40 Ind.App. 693, 82 N.E. 986; Shumms' Admx. v. Rutland R. R. Co., 81 Vt. 186, 69 A. 945, 19 L. R. A., N. S., 973; McKinney v. Port Townsend etc. Ry., 91 Wash. 387, 158 P. 107.) The judgments are grossly excessive. (Beaton v. City of St. Maries, 27 Idaho 638, 151 P. 996.)

F. C. Robertson, Robert Corkery and Allen P. Asher, for Respondent.

The failure to observe the statutory regulations renders the defendant liable for any damages sustained. (Wheeler v. Oregon R. & N. Co., 16 Idaho 375, 102 P. 347.)

Deceased used due care for their own safety and stopped, looked and listened. (Burrow v. Idaho & Wash. Nor. R. R. Co., 24 Idaho 652, 135 P. 838; Fleenor v. Oregon Short Line Ry. Co., 16 Idaho 781, 102 P. 897.)

The deceased being strangers, were not absolutely charged to look at the best available point. (Emens v. Lehigh Valley R. Co., 223 F. 810; Rodrian v. New York etc. Ry., 125 N.Y. 526, 26 N.E. 741; Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Griffith, 159 U.S. 603, 16 S.Ct. 105, 40 L.Ed. 274; Continental Improvement Co. v. Stead, 95 U.S. 161, 24 L.Ed. 403.)

The burden was on the defendant to show that deceased did not look or listen and it is presumed that they did look and listen. (Texas & P. R. Co. v. Gentry, 163 U.S. 353, 16 S.Ct. 1104, 41 L.Ed. 186; Baltimore & P. R. Co. v. Landrigan, 191 U.S. 461, 24 S.Ct. 137, 48 L.Ed. 262.)

Amount of recovery is very conservative considering ages of parents and earning capacity of father. (Anderson v. Great Northern Ry. Co., 15 Idaho 513, 522, 99 P. 91; Ruppel v. United Railroads, 1 Cal.App. 666, 82 P. 1073; Staab v. Rocky Mountain Bell Tel. Co., 23 Idaho 314, 129 P. 1078; Bourdier v. Louisiana Western Ry. Co., 133 La. 50, 62 So. 348; Rochester v. Seattle, Renton & Southern Ry., 67 Wash. 545, 122 P. 23; Wallace v. Third Ave. Ry. Co., 36 A.D. 57, 55 N.Y.S. 132; Demarest v. Little, 47 N.J.L. 28; Dimmey v. Wheeling etc. R., 27 W.Va. 32, 55 Am. Rep. 292.)

BUDGE, C. J. Morgan and Rice, JJ., concur.

OPINION

BUDGE, C. J.

Two actions were...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • Whiffin v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • April 6, 1939
    ... ... 347, 356; ... Polly v. Oregon Short Line R. R. Co., 51 Idaho 453, ... 6 P.2d 478; Graves v. Northern P. R. R. Co., 30 ... Idaho 542, 166 P. 571.) ... A ... general demurrer to ... ...
  • Geist v. Moore
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • July 22, 1937
    ... ... entitled to. ( Randolph v. Hunt, 41 Cal.App. 739, 183 ... P. 358; Graves v. Northern Pacific Ry. Co., 30 Idaho ... 542, 166 P. 571; Fleenor v. Oregon Short Line R ... ...
  • McIntire v. Oregon Short Line Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • February 21, 1936
    ... ... plain view, the doctrine of last clear chance does not apply ... (Miller v. Northern Pacific Ry. Co., 105 Wash. 645, ... 178 P. 808; Mouso v. Bellingham & N. Ry. Co., 106 ... Wash ... defendant. (Kelly v. Troy Laundry Co., supra; Graves v ... Great Northern Ry. Co., 30 Idaho 542, 166 P. 571; ... Hard v. Spokane International R ... ...
  • Department of Finance of State of Idaho v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 4, 1940
    ... ... (20 Am. Jur. 163, sec. 158, ... title "Evidence," also, p. 70, note 12; ... Northern P. R. R. Co. v. Freeman, 174 U.S. 379, 383, ... 19 S.Ct. 763, 43 L.Ed. 1014; Lindley v. Southern ... Min. Co., 12 Idaho 637, 643, 89 P. 624, 11 L. R. A., N ... S., 844; Graves v. Northern P. Ry. Co., 30 Idaho ... 542, 549, 166 P. 571; Davis v. Boggs, 22 Ariz. 497, ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT