Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 6 Div. 381.

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtLAWSON, Justice.
Citation25 So.2d 505,247 Ala. 616
Docket Number6 Div. 381.
Decision Date07 March 1946
PartiesGRIFFIN LUMBER CO. et al. v. HARPER.

25 So.2d 505

247 Ala. 616

GRIFFIN LUMBER CO. et al.
v.
HARPER.

6 Div. 381.

Supreme Court of Alabama

March 7, 1946


Rehearing Denied April 18, 1946.

[247 Ala. 617] [25 So.2d 506]

London & Yancey, of Birmingham, for appellants.

Ling & Bains, of Bessemer, for appellee.

[247 Ala. 618] LAWSON, Justice.

This is an action by Mrs. Myrtle Vines Harper, who sues as mother of Harvey Elwood Vines, Jr., deceased, her minor son, under the homicide statute, § 119, Title 7, Code of 1940, against Griffin Lumber Company, a partnership composed of O. A. Griffin and E. J. Staub, and against Griffin and Staub individually.

The case was submitted to the jury on plaintiff's complaint consisting of one count charging that the death of her minor son was caused by a wanton wrong of an agent, servant or employee of defendants, while acting within the line and scope of his employment in the operation of a truck belonging to defendants. Defendants interposed the plea of the general issue. There were verdict and judgment for the plaintiff, fixing the damages at $1,250. From this judgment defendants appeal.

Defendants seek reversal of this case on the sole ground that the trial court erred in refusing to give the affirmative charge for the several defendants, as requested by them in writing. Hence the only question presented for our consideration is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the charge that the death of plaintiff's minor son was proximately caused by the wanton misconduct of defendants' truck driver.

Wantonness is the conscious doing of some act or omission of some duty under knowledge of existing conditions and conscious that from the doing of such act or omission of such duty injury will likely or probably result. Before a party can be said to be guilty of wanton conduct it must be shown that with reckless indifference to the consequences he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the injury. Duke v. Gaines, 224 Ala. 519, 140 So. 600; First National Bank of Dothan v. Sanders, 227 Ala. 313, 149 So. 848.

Plaintiff's minor son and defendants' truck driver, J. B. Nickless, were killed when the truck in which they were riding ran off a public highway into a ditch at a point approximately six miles south of Bessemer, Alabama, on the Morgan-Genery Gap Road, so-called. Plaintiff's decedent was riding as a guest in the truck which was owned by defendants and which at the time of the accident was travelling in a general northerly direction en route to defendants' mill in Bessemer with a load of green pine logs weighing approximately seven or eight tons. The accident occurred at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the 30th day of July, 1943. The surface of the road was made of chert and was dry [25 So.2d 507] at the time of the accident. Defendants' truck driver was shown to have been familiar with the road. There were no eyewitnesses. The record discloses that just prior to the accident the truck had descended a long hill, the top of which was approximately 1683 feet from the point where the accident occurred. There is a down grade of five per cent (a drop of five feet for every hundred feet) for a distance of 1300 feet, then the down grade decreases to three per cent for a distance of 200 feet at which point begins a two per cent up grade. One witness for plaintiff, a civil engineer, stated that the hill was not steep, while another witness for plaintiff described it as being fairly steep. There is a curve of seven degrees to the left beginning at a point where the up grade commences, which is 183 feet from the point where the truck hit a culvert on the right side of the road. The curve was described by the civil engineer who testified for plaintiff as being a gradual, regular curve. The surface of the road at the culvert is shown to be about 15 feet above the bottom of the ditch into which the truck fell. The south end of the culvert wall, which was constructed of stone and concrete, was badly damaged and the north wing of the culvert was damaged to some extent. The latter extended from the north end of the culvert wall at an angle of about forty-two degrees. The distance from the damaged area of the south end of the culvert wall to the damaged portion of the north wing was fixed at 22 1/2 feet by one witness for plaintiff and at 27 feet by another. The truck came to rest just beyond this north wing of the culvert and was found to be burning by those who reached the scene of the accident soon after it occurred. It was completely destroyed. There were tracks between the travelled part of the chert road to the damaged portion of the culvert wall. There was nothing in or about the tracks to indicate that brakes had been applied or that the truck had been suddenly turned either to the right or the left. There was no evidence of skidding. The tracks led 'fairly' straight from that part of the road normally travelled by northbound traffic to the damaged part of the culvert wall. There is no evidence as to the length of such tracks.

[247 Ala. 619] Evidence relating to the speed of the truck is limited to the testimony of a witness who saw a logging truck going in the direction of the scene of the accident a short time before it occurred, and of a highway patrolman who testified as an expert and who was permitted to express an opinion as to the speed of the truck at the time it hit the culvert wall. Defendants objected strenuously to the introduction of such testimony and excepted to the adverse rulings of the trial court, but no error is assigned in connection therewith. Hence, the question as to whether such testimony was properly admitted is not before us.

Mrs. Lorraine Stevenson, a witness for the plaintiff, testified on direct examination that she lived about one-half mile from the place where the accident occurred; that her home is on the other side of the hill from that which the truck descended just prior to the accident; that she remembered when the accident happened and that just a few minutes prior thereto she saw a lumber truck 'going rather fast' in the direction of the culvert (the scene of the accident); that she could not drive an automobile and did not ride in them often but road in busses 'once in a while.' On cross-examination this witness testified that she was in her kitchen at the time she saw the truck and that she 'just glanced up at it'; that she saw it for about a distance of 50 feet and that it was going fast.

Highway Patrolman Young reached the scene of the accident within a short time after it happened. He testified for the plaintiff, describing the place where the accident occurred, the condition of the truck, the damage to the culvert, and the nature and character of car tracks which he observed. On direct examination he was asked the following question: 'Assuming, Mr. Young, that the truck you saw at the bottom of the fill was the truck that made the...

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88 practice notes
  • Carr v. International Refining & Mfg. Co., 1070770.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 16, 2009
    ...he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the result. Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d 505 [(1946)]; Taylor v. Thompson, 271 Ala. 18, 122 So.2d 277 [(1960)]; Johnson v. Sexton, [277 Ala. 627, 173 So.2d 790] [(1965)].......
  • Carr v. International Refining & Manufacturing Company, No. 1070770 (Ala. 11/13/2008), No. 1070770.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • November 13, 2008
    ...he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the result. Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So. 2d 505 [(1946)]; Taylor v. Thompson, 271 Ala. 18, 122 So. 2d 277 [(1960)]; Johnson v. Sexton, [277 Ala. 627, 173 So. 2d 790] [(1965......
  • W. S. Fowler Rental Equipment Co. v. Skipper, 6 Div. 782
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • July 25, 1963
    ...act or omission of such duty injury will probably result. English v. Jacobs, 263 Ala. 376, 82 So.2d 542; Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d Under the evidence as summarized above, we think it was clearly within the jury's province to find that the leaving in the nighttime ......
  • Hamilton v. Browning, 5 Div. 526
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • March 10, 1952
    ...So.2d 679; Jack Cole, Inc. v. Walker, 240 Ala. 683, 200 So. 768; Daniel v. Motes, 228 Ala. 454, 153 So. 727; Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d 505; Claude Jones & Son v. Lair, 245 Ala. 441, 445, 17 So.2d 577.' 249 Ala. 321, 30 So.2d In considering the propriety of the aff......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
88 cases
  • Carr v. International Refining & Mfg. Co., 1070770.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 16, 2009
    ...he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the result. Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d 505 [(1946)]; Taylor v. Thompson, 271 Ala. 18, 122 So.2d 277 [(1960)]; Johnson v. Sexton, [277 Ala. 627, 173 So.2d 790] [(1965)].......
  • Carr v. International Refining & Manufacturing Company, No. 1070770 (Ala. 11/13/2008), No. 1070770.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • November 13, 2008
    ...he consciously and intentionally did some wrongful act or omitted some known duty which produced the result. Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So. 2d 505 [(1946)]; Taylor v. Thompson, 271 Ala. 18, 122 So. 2d 277 [(1960)]; Johnson v. Sexton, [277 Ala. 627, 173 So. 2d 790] [(1965......
  • W. S. Fowler Rental Equipment Co. v. Skipper, 6 Div. 782
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • July 25, 1963
    ...act or omission of such duty injury will probably result. English v. Jacobs, 263 Ala. 376, 82 So.2d 542; Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d Under the evidence as summarized above, we think it was clearly within the jury's province to find that the leaving in the nighttime ......
  • Hamilton v. Browning, 5 Div. 526
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • March 10, 1952
    ...So.2d 679; Jack Cole, Inc. v. Walker, 240 Ala. 683, 200 So. 768; Daniel v. Motes, 228 Ala. 454, 153 So. 727; Griffin Lumber Co. v. Harper, 247 Ala. 616, 25 So.2d 505; Claude Jones & Son v. Lair, 245 Ala. 441, 445, 17 So.2d 577.' 249 Ala. 321, 30 So.2d In considering the propriety of the aff......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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