Hicks v. Love, 519.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
Citation161 S.E. 394,201 N.C. 773
Decision Date09 December 1931
Docket NumberNO. 519.,519.
PartiesHICKS . v. LOVE. BRUTON . v. SAME.

161 S.E. 394
(201 N.C. 773)


NO. 519.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Dec. 9, 1931.

Appeal from Superior Court, Montgomery County; Walter E. Moore, Judge.

Actions by J. D. Hicks, administrator of O. L. Hicks, against J. D. Love, and by R: L. Bruton against J. D. Love. Prom judgments for plaintiffs, defendant appeals.

No error.

On Sunday, August 17, 1930, Lindsay Bruton, Cora Campbell (since married to Lindsay Bruton), O. L. Hicks, and Essie Hall were traveling in a Ford touring car on Highway No. 80 in Stanly county; Bruton and Miss Campbell occupying the front seat and Hicks and Miss Hall the other. Hicks proposed that they stop at a cafe which was on the left side of the highway and get something to eat. Bruton turned the car to the left and it was struck by a Dodge sedan driven by Robert Love, a minor, with the consent of his father, J. D. Love, the defendant. The two cars were going in the same direction, the Dodge following the Ford; they stopped 69 feet from the place of collision. Hicks suffered injuries which resulted in his death. The Ford was damaged. Suit was brought by the administrator of Hicks to recover damages for his death and by R. L. Bruton, the owner of the Ford car, for its impaired value. Each complaint sets out acts of negligence which are supported by the plaintiffs' evidence. The defendant introduced evidence in contradiction. By consent the two cases were tried together upon separate issues. In each case the jury answered the issues of negligence, contributory negligence, and damages in favor of the plaintiff. The contentions of the parties so far as they affect the controversy are stated in the opinion.

Armstrong & Armstrong, of Troy, for appellant.

R. T. Poole, of Troy, for appellees.


The record contains eighty-two assignments of error, nineteen of which relate to evidence tending to show the speed of the Dodge sedan immediately before the collision occurred. Subject to the defendant's exception, several witnesses who saw the sedan and at the time

[161 S.E. 395]

were impressed by its speed were permitted to express their estimate, some saying that in their opinion it was running at the rate of fifty miles an hour and others at a rate not less than sixty.

These exceptions raise the question whether the court committed error by admitting the evidence without requiring preliminary testimony as to the observation of the witnesses, their experience in driving automobiles, and the knowledge upon which they based their judgment. With respect to the first ground it may bo said that all these witnesses rested their opinion upon their personal observation of the sedan at the time spoken of; so the specific question is whether a nonexpert witness may testify as to the speed of an automobile without antecedent qualification of his competency to express an opinion on this point.

It is a rule of evidence that where special experience is held to be necessary the possession of the required qualifications by a particular person offered as a witness must be expressly shown by the party offering him. Wig-more on Evidence, § 560. But Wigmore says: "There are a variety of rulings on miscellaneous topics, holding that a lay witness suffices; the topics that seem to have called for frequent decision being those of the speed of a train or other vehicle and the existence of a state of intoxication." Section 571. In his Commentaries on Evidence, § 1264, Jones cites a large number of cases in support of the rule which he states as follows: "A person of ordinary intelligence, having opportunity for observation, is competent to testify as to the speed at which an automobile was being operated at a given time. The rate of speed of an automobile on a public highway is a matter of which people generally have some knowledge. It is not a matter exclusively of expert knowledge or skill. As above stated, where the rate of speed of such a vehicle is material in an action, any person of ordinary ability and means of observation who may have observed the vehicle may give his estimate as to the rate of speed at which it was moving. The extent of his observation goes to the weight of his testimony." In the annotation appended to Lewis v. Miller, 70 a. L. R. 532, 540, where many cases are assembled, it is said: "It is a general rule, as to which there is little, if any, conflict, and reaching back to a time long before automobiles came into use, that any person of...

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23 cases
  • Greene v. Nichols, No. 358
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 14, 1968
    ...specific evidence be offered with reference to decedent's earning capacity, Reeves v. Hill, 272 N.C. 352, 158 S.E.2d 529; Hicks v. Love, 201 N.C. 773, 161 S.E. 394, it is required that plaintiff offer some evidence tending to show that intestate was potentially capable of earning money in e......
  • Armentrout v. Hughes, No. 521
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 31, 1958
    ...98 Vt. 284, 127 A. 380; Regan v. Chicago, etc., Ry. Co., 51 Wis. 599, 8 N.W. 292. This Court said in Hicks v. Love (Bruton v. Love), 201 N.C. 773, 161 S.E. 394, 396: 'It is finally insisted that there is no evidence that justified the recovery of damages, and that the judge should have told......
  • Hanks v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co, 737.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • March 30, 1949
    ...to show what manner of man he was, especially in providing for those of his own household who were dependent upon him. Hicks v. Love, 201 N.C. 773, 161 S.E. 394; Hill v. Erie R. Co., 225 App.Div. 19, 232 N.Y.S. 66. 2. The defendant offered the complaint and order for temporary alimony in th......
  • State v. Clayton, No. 422
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 12, 1968
    ...opportunity to observe a vehicle in motion, may give his estimate as to the speed at which it was moving. Hicks v. Love (Bruton v. Love), 201 N.C. 773, 161 S.E. 394; 1 Strong, N.C. Index, Automobiles § 38 (1957); Stansbury, N.C. Evidence § 131 (2d Ed. 1963); 8 Am.Jur.2d Automobiles and High......
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