Hagen v. Snow, 36403

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtCHRISTIANSON
Citation69 N.W.2d 100,244 Minn. 101
PartiesInga HAGEN et al., Appellants, v. Harold J. SNOW, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 36403,36403
Decision Date04 March 1955

Page 100

69 N.W.2d 100
244 Minn. 101
Inga HAGEN et al., Appellants,
Harold J. SNOW, Respondent.
No. 36403.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
March 4, 1955.

Syllabus by the Court

[244 MINN 101] In construing a charge as a whole, its adequacy in correctly setting forth controlling principles of law is to be measured by the meaning it reasonably conveys to the jurors who hear it only once and have no opportunity to examine it in written form. Even though a jury charge may be close inspection be found to be technically correct in its entirety, a new trial should be

Page 101

granted if its impact upon the jury is likely to convey, and reasonably does convey, an erroneous understanding of controlling principles of law. Held, that it was prejudicial error not to have given the substance of plaintiffs' requested instruction under the circumstances presented.

Hvass, Weisman, Peterson, King & Schwappach, Minneapolis, for appellants.

Meagher, Geer, Markham & Anderson, O. C. Adamson II and David W. Nord, Minneapolis, for respondent.


Separate actions are brought by plaintiffs to recover for personal injuries sustained when they were struck by an automobile driven by defendant. The cases were consolidated for trial and the jury returned a verdict for defendant in both cases. Plaintiffs appeal from [244 MINN 102] the orders of the trial court denying their motion for a new trial.

At about 7:50 p.m. on the evening of January 31, 1952, plaintiffs, Henry and Inga Hagen, husband and wife, 70 and 72 years of age, respectively, were crossing Eleventh avenue south from east to west on the south side of Seventh street south in the city of Minneapolis when they were struck by defendant's car which was proceeding south on Eleventh avenue south.

For purposes of this opinion, Eleventh avenue south, which is 42 feet wide, shall be considered as running north and south, and Seventh street south, which is 40 feet wide, as running east and west. They intersect each other at approximately right angles. Just prior to the accident plaintiffs had got out of an automobile at the southeast corner of the intersection. Before starting to cross Eleventh avenue south, plaintiff Henry Hagen looked to the north and saw the lights of a vehicle approximately one block away. As he had his wife were walking across the intersection he looked to the north again and 'saw the light kind of slowing down.' Plaintiffs had proceeded across Eleventh avenue south for a distance of approximately 34 feet when their forward progress was impeded by a puddle of water at least six inches deep and approximately 16 feet wide at the southwest corner of the intersection. When they reached the puddle, they angled off to the south so as to get around it and were walking in a southwesterly direction. They had taken four or five steps when they were struck by defendant's automobile coming from the north.

Defendant testified that he was driving his car in a southerly direction on Eleventh avenue south approximately nine to ten feet from the westerly curb at a speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour and that as he entered the intersection he slowed down to 18 to 20 miles per hour. However, one of plaintiffs' witnesses testified that defendant was traveling about 25 miles per hour. Defendant further stated that as he approached the intersection with Seventh street, he saw the lights of some traffic approaching him on Eleventh avenue about halfway down the block ahead of him; that he also observed a group of pedestrians on the southeast corner of the intersection apparently waiting [244 MINN 103] to cross Eleventh avenue; that when he was about 15 feet north of the southerly crosswalk traversing Eleventh avenue, he saw the plaintiffs dressed in dark clothing, who were then about 20 to 25 feet away and approximately 14 feet south of the intersection walking in a slightly southwesterly direction; and that upon seeing plaintiffs he immediately put on his brakes but was unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with them. There was testimony, however, by other witnesses to the effect that plaintiffs were approximately five feet south of the southerly crosswalk and eight feet from the westerly curb line of Eleventh avenue south when they were struck and that defendant stated after the accident that he had first seen plaintiffs when he was ten feet from them.

The intersection in question was described as poorly illuminated with only one street light catercorner from the scene of the accident. The streets were wet in spots with occasional areas of ice under the water

Page 102

and somewhat slippery. Defendant's windshield had previously been spattered with mud which affected his visibility.

The only error assigned on appeal pertains to the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' requested instruction reading as follows:

'If you find that the pedestrian crosswalk in the area...

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18 cases
  • Holweger v. Great Northern Ry. Co., 39144
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • August 7, 1964
    ...was clearly entitled thereto under his theory of the case. See, Phillips v. G.N. Ry. Co., 257 Minn. 195, 100 N.W.2d 765; Hagen v. Snow, 244 Minn. 101, 69 N.W.2d 100; Jacobson v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 221 Minn. 454, 22 N.W.2d 455; Baez v. Southern Pac. Co., 210 Cal.App.2d 714, 26 Cal.Rptr.......
  • Ouellette by Ouellette v. Subak, C4-85-571
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • December 17, 1985
    ...19, 1985), we found the failure to properly instruct the jury on the relevant law required a new trial, stating: In Hagen v. Snow, 244 Minn. 101, 69 N.W.2d 100 (1955), the court [E]ven a request for an instruction which is not entirely perfect may in some situations impose upon the court th......
  • Alholm v. Wilt, CX-85-1238
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • October 10, 1986
    ...by the facts of the case, the trial court should be compelled to utilize the instruction. In so doing, he relies on Hagen v. Snow, 244 Minn. 101, 69 N.W.2d 100 (1955) and Nubbe v. Hardy Continental Hotel System of Minnesota, 225 Minn. 496, 31 N.W.2d 332 (1948). Trial courts are allowed "con......
  • Floen v. Sund, 37596
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • April 17, 1959
    ...Midland Ins. Co., 138 Minn. 424, 427, 165 N.W. 474, 475.3 Luther v. Standard Conveyor Co., 252 Minn. 135, 89 N.W.2d 179; Hagen v. Snow, 244 Minn. 101, 69 N.W.2d 100; Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co. v. Green, 8 Cir., 164 F.2d 55, 61.4 Luther v. Standard Conveyor Co., 252 Minn. 135, 89 N.W.2d 179; Bou......
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