Hall v. South Carolina Ry. Co.

Decision Date20 March 1888
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from common pleas circuit court of Aiken county; KERSHAW Judge.

Action by H. H. Hall against the South Carolina Railway Company for damages for an ejectment from defendant's train. Plaintiff recovered $325 in the circuit court, and defendant appeals.

Brawley & Barnwell and Henderson Bros., for appellant.

G. W Croft and O. C. Jordan, for respondent.


The plaintiff brought this action for damages on the ground that the agent or servant of the defendant company had illegally ejected him from the defendant's railroad train. The facts of the case, as to which there is no dispute here, were substantially as follows: On the 16th of October, 1883, the plaintiff boarded defendant's train at Aiken for the purpose of going to Augusta to meet the remains of his deceased mother. The train passed Aiken at a very early hour before daylight; and, although the plaintiff was at the depot in time to have purchased a ticket before the train arrived, he was unable to do so because the ticket-office was not open,--the regulations of the company not requiring it to be opened at so early an hour. When the plaintiff was asked for his ticket or fare by the conductor he tendered him 55 cents, the price of a ticket from Aiken to Augusta, but the conductor demanded 10 cents more, upon the ground that he was required by the regulations of the company to charge a person who had no ticket 65 cents. The plaintiff declined to pay the sum demanded, when the conductor told him that if he did not pay it he would have to put him off. The plaintiff then said to the conductor, "Stop your train, and put me off, then." This the conductor declined to do, but carried plaintiff five miles further, on to Graniteville, the next station; and when the train reached that station the conductor again approached plaintiff, and asked if he must take him up and put him off, to which plaintiff replied, "No; but he must lead me out, and he laid his hand on me, and led me out." The morning was cold and wet, and, the depot at Graniteville not being open at that early hour, the plaintiff was left there without shelter. The plaintiff testified that the conductor's manner in refusing the amount offered, and demanding more, with a threat to put him off if he did not pay the amount demanded, was abrupt; but when he was actually put off the train at Graniteville no violence was used, and no more force than was necessary to take plaintiff by the arm and lead him off the train. The plaintiff remained at Graniteville until a return train came, which he took, and reached Aiken about 8 o'clock in the morning. The plaintiff also testified that when he first refused to pay the amount demanded, and asked the conductor to put him off then, the train had just left Aiken, and reached a point between the landing of the Highland Park Hotel and the pump where the train sometimes stopped, not more than a mile from Aiken. The jury found a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $325, and defendant appeals upon the several grounds set out in the record.

The first ground, which alleges error in the admission of certain testimony, is disposed of by the statement which appears in the "case," that the objection to this testimony was not overruled, but was sustained; and the position taken in the argument, that the plaintiff had the full benefit of this testimony, cannot be sustained. So far as the "case" shows the objection to this testimony was sustained as soon as it was presented, and certainly this is all that could have been expected from the circuit judge, as it does not appear that he was asked to strike out such testimony, or to instruct the jury to disregard it, and refused to do so.

The second ground of appeal is as follows: "Because it is submitted that his honor erred in charging the jury that, in considering the question of exemplary damages, they must take into consideration 'that he could have been ejected when a few yards from home,' in that said charge involved a question of fact, and should have been submitted to the jury." It seems to us that this ground is taken under a misconception of the charge. The language therein quoted from the charge, taken, as there stated, by itself, and apart from the connection in which it was used, might possibly convey the idea that the circuit judge had stated, as a fact proved in the case, that the plaintiff could have been put off the train within a few yards of his home, and if so it would undoubtedly be objectionable. But when we examine the charge, which is set out in the "case," it is manifest that the circuit judge did not intend to state, and did not state, any fact as proved in the case; but simply stated to the jury, what he had the unquestionable right to do, that if certain facts were established they might take them into consideration in determining whether the plaintiff was entitled to exemplary damages. This will appear from the language of the charge as to this point, which is as follows: "If he was not liable to be expelled from defendant's cars, and he was expelled at an unseasonable hour of the morning, where he was exposed to the weather, when he could have been ejected when a few yards from home, you may take these circumstances in consideration in making up your verdict, and may give exemplary damages." It seems to us clear that the word "if," at the beginning of this sentence, was applicable to each branch of it, and that the plain and obvious meaning of the language used by the circuit judge was that, if the circumstances there mentioned occurred, they were proper matters to be considered by the jury in determining whether exemplary damages should be allowed. As we have frequently had occasion to say, it will not do to take up detached sentences, or parts of sentences, from the charge of a circuit judge, but it must be considered as a whole; for that is the way it is delivered to the jury, and therefore the way in which they must be regarded as considering it; and if we consider this charge in that manner we do not see how the jury could have supposed that the judge was stating to them any fact as proved, but was simply telling them that, if certain circumstances did occur, then they were proper for their consideration in determining the...

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