Holden v. Pennsylvania Railroad, 269

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtMR. JUSTICE GREEN:
Citation169 Pa. 1,32 A. 103
PartiesWilliam Holden v. Pennsylvania Railroad, Appellant
Docket Number269
Decision Date30 May 1895

32 A. 103

169 Pa. 1

William Holden
v.
Pennsylvania Railroad, Appellant

No. 269

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

May 30, 1895


Argued: April 18, 1895

Appeal, No. 269, Jan. T., 1895, by defendant, from judgment of C.P. Luzerne Co., Oct. T., 1889, No. 1036, on verdict for plaintiff. Reversed.

Trespass to recover damages for personal injuries received by plaintiff at a railroad crossing of the highway on which plaintiff was riding in a carriage. Before LYNCH, P.J.

At the trial it appeared that on the morning of Aug. 31, 1888, Rev. William Holden, rector of St. Peter's church, Hazleton, accepted an invitation extended to him by Mrs. J. C. Hayden, one of his congregation, to ride in her phaeton, four or five miles into the country upon some business connected with the church. The horse was driven by Mrs. Hayden. The accident occurred at a grade crossing, known as Cranberry crossing, about three quarters of a mile from Hazleton. Plaintiff testified that, before they went upon the tracks, the carriage was stopped, and he looked and listened for an approaching train. Mrs. Hayden testified that the carriage did not stop, and four witnesses who saw the occurrence corroborated her testimony. The testimony of the plaintiff, of Mrs. Hayden, and of the witnesses who saw the occurrence, is quoted at length in the opinion of the Supreme Court:

After John T. Lenahan, Esq., one of plaintiff's counsel had addressed the jury, and before the charge was begun, the following paper was presented to the court:

"The defendant respectfully requests the court to instruct the jury:

"1. That counsel for the plaintiff misbehaved himself in stating to the jury, as follows: 'If ever corruption was resorted to in a case, this is the case.'

"That there is no evidence in the case showing or tending to show that corruption has been resorted to.

"2. In stating to the jury that 'It' (meaning the crossing) 'was a death-trap put there by these men' (meaning the defendants) 'for the purpose of taking the lives of their fellowmen.'

"3. In arguing to the jury that the crossing was dangerous after agreeing to defendant's point that the duty of guarding the crossing belongs to the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

"4. In stating to the jury that 'only one, indeed, had an interest in having the barn disappear, that was the Pennsylvania Railroad. Its being taken down would damage but one person, one to be benefited. A body of men capable of taking the barn down were capable of fixing the foundations at any spot that would suit the purpose of the case.' There being no evidence that the defendant had in any way interfered with the barn or its foundations.

"5. In saying that the witness, 'Cahoon, is a fellow bumming around the town. The dollar he expects to get is the only dollar he has earned in many a year.' And in calling him a 'bummer.'

"6. In calling the company's detective a ghoul with a human face, but the heart of a beast.

"7. In saying that 'she' (Mary Matthews, meaning), 'was flayed by this ghoul in the newspapers.' Meaning detective Heffernan, when, in point of fact, there was no evidence of any such thing.

"8. In stating as follows: 'They' (the defendants, meaning) 'may bully the venal, but the day has come when they must cease the attempted system of terrorizing witnesses who swear against them,' in absence of evidence that any such thing has been done.

"9. In stating as follows: 'Hughes and Cahoon are lying with a hope of being paid for their dishonest and dastardly service. These two infamous perjurers should be avoided. It becomes your duty and mine to stamp those perjurers, as the tools of a company -- They are infamous birds of prey.'

"10. In saying (the defendant's witnesses, meaning), 'These scoundrels that have gathered together shall not be successful until they have been scourged by the heavy hand of justice.'

"11. In abusing Mrs. J. C. Hayden, as appears in the notes taken by the stenographer.

"H. W. PALMER, Attorney for Defense.

"LUZERNE COUNTY, ss.

"H. W. Palmer, being duly sworn, saith, that the above extracts from the remarks of J. T. Lenahan, Esq., to the jury in the above stated case are correct and were taken down at the time of their delivery, by deponent.

"H. W. PALMER."

"Sworn and subscribed before me, this 14th day of December, 1893.

"J. C. WEGAND, Prothonotary.

"Per S. E. INNES."

Defendant's counsel upon presenting the above paper requested the court to withdraw a juror and continue the case, on the ground that the counsel for plaintiff had misbehaved himself. The court refused the request, and sealed a bill for defendant. [6]

The court charged in part as follows:

"It is not enough that the defendant be negligent and that such negligence caused the accident. If it be shown in this case that the plaintiff, Mr. Holden, was guilty of negligence, however slight, which contributed to the accident, he cannot recover. The law in this state is well settled, and has been for many years past, that a traveler upon a public highway who is about to cross a railroad must first stop (not slack up), look both ways, up and down the track, and listen for approaching danger. There is no exception to the rule. I speak now, of course, of a case of this character. If this were Mrs. Hayden's case, and she had testified, as she has here, that she did not stop, look or listen before crossing the track, she could not recover damages from the defendant. But this is not Mrs. Hayden's case, but the Rev. Mr. Holden's. Mr. Holden was her invited companion. The phaeton and horse, by which they were traveling, if you believe the evidence of Mrs. Hayden and there is nothing to contradict it, belonged to her. Mr. Holden was a passenger or a companion without hire. The conveyance was not that of a common carrier, it was private. Under such circumstances, if Mrs. Hayden had been guilty of the negligence of which she says she was guilty, by driving upon the railroad without stopping, and if the plaintiff in this case did not know or had not been informed at the top of the hill that there was a railroad crossing, the negligence of Mrs. Hayden would not defeat the action of Mr. Holden. In other words, it would then be the negligence of Mrs. Hayden and the railroad company, and Mr. Holden would upon proper proof have a right to recover from either. But in this case it is in evidence that although Mr. Holden had not been upon the road before, he was informed at the top of the hill that there was a railroad crossing and that it was a bad place, and he was on the lookout for the approach of trains of cars.

"Under such circumstances (I am not speaking now of whether he did stop, look or listen at all), it was his duty to have either left the carriage or have it stopped. With such knowledge, being carried gratuitously by Mrs. Hayden, he was bound to see that the carriage was stopped before crossing the track. Did the plaintiff stop, look and listen at the time they were about to cross the railroad track? The court instructs you that the stop at the top of the hill, nearly 300 feet from the crossing, was not sufficient. The stop must be at a time when they are about to cross. The evidence of the plaintiff is, substantially, that they stopped first at the top of the hill, that they drove down the hill and to within about fifteen or eighteen feet of the railroad, and before attempting to cross the track Mrs. Hayden stopped the horse again and that he first looked to the right, that is, to the west, in the direction in which the train finally came, and having seen no danger or any train approaching from that direction, he looked to the left over the shoulder or back of Mrs. Hayden; that he saw nothing approaching upon the track from that side; that then something was said about all right, and that the horse was started. About the time the fore part of the horse was upon the track he felt the approach of impending danger, and the horse was struck by the locomotive.

"Did the plaintiff stop at or about that distance from the track? You have the evidence before you of several witnesses who testified that he did not, and Mrs. Hayden also testified that he did not stop. On the other side you have the positive evidence of the plaintiff that he did -- that they did stop before crossing.

"[In so far as this branch of the case is concerned, if you shall determine that the conveyance was stopped at that place, that the plaintiff did look up and down the road, that he did listen for approaching train, heard none, saw none, heard no signal and that no signal was given, then he did his duty.]

"It is contended by the defendant that even though the conveyance was stopped at that point, say in the neighborhood of fifteen or eighteen feet from the crossing, that still the plaintiff is not entitled to recover. That under the evidence in this case, if the conveyance was stopped at the point indicated, and that he did look to his right or west along the track, that he must necessarily have seen the approaching train. You will remember the calculations, figures and distances given by the different witnesses where a train could be seen, from that point, and also the alleged discrepancies and contradictions. If you shall determine, as a matter of fact, that the plaintiff did stop, look and listen at the point indicated, and that there was a plain unobstructed view of an approaching train for a long distance, then, as stated by the Supreme Court, he cannot deny that he saw what his eyes must have seen if he had looked, or what his ears must have heard if he listened."

Defendant's points were among others as follows:

"5. It was the imperative duty of the plaintiff to stop, look and listen at the point at which he could see and hear, before crossing the track, and if the jury believe from the evidence that he did not do so, he cannot recover in this case. Answer: The point is affirmed, with this...

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111 practice notes
  • Smith v. Times Publishing Co., 212
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 4, 1897
    ...the case, and in declining to hear or permit the filing of reasons for such motion: Com. v. Weber, 167 Pa. 153; Holden v. Penna. R.R. 169 Pa. 1. A. S. L. Shields, for appellee. -- The appeal should be quashed: Burkholder v. Stahl, 58 Pa. 371; Neiss v. Foster, 64 Pa. 495; Collins v. Leafey, ......
  • Wilkinson v. Oregon Short Line R. Co., 1917
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • January 12, 1909
    ...140 N.C. 209, 52 S.E. 932, 3 L.R.A. (N.S.) 391; Durbin v. Oregon Ry. Co., 17 Ore. 5, 17 P. 5, 11 Am. St. Rep. 778; Holden v. Pa. Ry. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103; Beyel v. N. N. & M. V. Ry., 34 W.Va. 538, 12 S.E. 532; Seefeld v. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 70 Wis. 216, 35 N.W. 278, 5 Am. St. Rep. 168;......
  • Johnson v. Stoveken, No. A--312
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • November 10, 1958
    ...is better, however, that the rule should be fixed and that cases of this kind should be put in line with Holden v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103, Wagner v. Hazel Twp., 215 Pa. 219, 64 A. 405, Saxton v. Pittsburg Railways Co., 219 Pa. 492, 68 A. 1022, Hollis v. Glass Co., 220 P......
  • Coopersmith v. Mahoney
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • May 24, 1928
    ...& W. R. Co. v. Allen, 122 Va. 615, 95 S. E. 406; A. O. L. Realty Co. v. Robertson's Ex'r, 135 Va. 247, 116 S. E. 476; Holden v. Pa. R. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103. We are of the opinion that the right of the case is with the plaintiff, and the judgments will be set aside and judgments entered......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
111 cases
  • Smith v. Times Publishing Co., 212
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 4, 1897
    ...the case, and in declining to hear or permit the filing of reasons for such motion: Com. v. Weber, 167 Pa. 153; Holden v. Penna. R.R. 169 Pa. 1. A. S. L. Shields, for appellee. -- The appeal should be quashed: Burkholder v. Stahl, 58 Pa. 371; Neiss v. Foster, 64 Pa. 495; Collins v. Leafey, ......
  • Wilkinson v. Oregon Short Line R. Co., 1917
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • January 12, 1909
    ...140 N.C. 209, 52 S.E. 932, 3 L.R.A. (N.S.) 391; Durbin v. Oregon Ry. Co., 17 Ore. 5, 17 P. 5, 11 Am. St. Rep. 778; Holden v. Pa. Ry. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103; Beyel v. N. N. & M. V. Ry., 34 W.Va. 538, 12 S.E. 532; Seefeld v. C. M. & St. P. Ry., 70 Wis. 216, 35 N.W. 278, 5 Am. St. Rep. 168;......
  • Johnson v. Stoveken, No. A--312
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • November 10, 1958
    ...is better, however, that the rule should be fixed and that cases of this kind should be put in line with Holden v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103, Wagner v. Hazel Twp., 215 Pa. 219, 64 A. 405, Saxton v. Pittsburg Railways Co., 219 Pa. 492, 68 A. 1022, Hollis v. Glass Co., 220 P......
  • Coopersmith v. Mahoney
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • May 24, 1928
    ...& W. R. Co. v. Allen, 122 Va. 615, 95 S. E. 406; A. O. L. Realty Co. v. Robertson's Ex'r, 135 Va. 247, 116 S. E. 476; Holden v. Pa. R. Co., 169 Pa. 1, 32 A. 103. We are of the opinion that the right of the case is with the plaintiff, and the judgments will be set aside and judgments entered......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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