Howe v. Jackson

Decision Date14 December 1966
Docket NumberNo. 10570,10570
Citation18 Utah 2d 269,421 P.2d 159
Partiesd 269 Beverly HOWE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Walter JACKSON, dba Mercy Ambulance, Defendant and Respondent.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

George B. Handy, Ogden, for appellant.

Jay E. Jensen, Christensen & Jensen, Salt Lake City, for respondent.

CROCKETT, Justice:

Plaintiff, Beverly Howe, seeks recovery for personal injuries sustained in a collision between her pickup truck and the defendant's ambulance at the intersection of 12th Street and Wall Avenue in Ogden, Utah. Jury verdict, no cause of action.

On appeal plaintiff contends that the trial court should have ruled that the defendant was negligent as a matter of law and allowed trial as to damages only; and that it erred in allowing the jury to consider whether the defendant's ambulance was operating as an emergency vehicle and thus in a privileged status with respect to obeying speed limits and traffic signals.

Where there is conflict we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and judgment. 1

Defendant operates the Mercy Ambulance Service, located at Harrisville, a small town just northwest of Ogden. On the morning of September 6, 1964, in response to an emergency call he was going into Ogden. With siren operating and the red warning light atop the white ambulance flashing, he proceeded south along Wall Avenue. Meanwhile, the plaintiff with two teenage daughters in her pickup truck, was driving east on 12th Street. As she neared the intersection with Wall Avenue, the traffic light changed green for her. She says that she observed a third driver, James Martin, coming into the intersection from the east and had noticed a white car (this would be defendant's ambulance) coming from the north, but that she did not hear the siren or see the flashing red light on it, which other witnesses affirmed were operating. As defendant's ambulance approached he slowed down from about 60 to about 40 miles an hour. In the intersection, it was struck in the left rear by the Martin truck and was propelled southwesterly in the intersection into the plaintiff's truck.

Recognizing the urgency and necessity of the service it renders, the legislature, by Section 41--6--14, U.C.A.1953, has exempted an 'authorized emergency vehicle,' while properly operating in the performance of its duty, from strict obedience to certain traffic regulations, including traffic signals and speed limits, provided that it sounds an audible signal by bell, siren or exhaust whistle and displays a red warning light visible for a distance of 500 feet.

In considering plaintiff's contention that the defendant does not qualify, certain other definitions are pertinent:

'Authorized emergency vehicle' is defined by Section 41--6--3(a) U.C.A.1953, as: 'Vehicles of the fire department, police vehicles, and such ambulances and emergency vehicles of municipal departments or public service corporations as are designated or authorized by the department or local authorities.' (Emphasis added.)

'The department' is defined in Section 41--6--6(b), U.C.A.1953, as 'The department of public safety of this state.'

'Local authorities,' is also defined in Section 41--6--6(h), U.C.A.1953, as 'Every county, municipal, and other local board or body having authority to adopt local police regulations under the constitution and laws of the state.'

Plaintiff argues that the defendant is (1) not a 'public service corporation'; and (2) not authorized either by the Department of Public Safety or by the 'local authority,' i.e., Ogden City, wherein the collision occurred.

In approaching the problem thus presented, certain principles should be borne in mind relating to the interpretation and application of statutes. They are designed to prescribe general rules of conduct and thus are necessarily in general language. It is obviously not possible to foresee all situations to which they may apply and prescribe their application to the last detail. Therefore, when such problems arise a statute should be considered in the light of its background and purpose; and also in connection with other aspects of the law which have a bearing on the problem, in order that its intent and purpose be fulfilled. 2

The term, 'public service corporation' as used in Section 41--6--3(a), U.C.A.1953, referring to emergency vehicles undoubtedly results from the fact that such services are generally rendered by corporations. But there is no reason to believe that there was any intent to confer a privilege solely upon corporations and thus discriminate against an individual, a partnership or any other type of entity rendering such a service. Just as in most instances, when rights are conferred upon 'persons,' it also includes 'corporations,' 3 the converse is true: Where it is essential to give a statute a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory application, the use of the term 'corporation' should be deemed to include 'persons.' 4 We thus conclude that inasmuch as the defendant is registered with the Public Service Commission as a common carrier of passengers, he would have the same rights as a corporation rendering a similar public service.

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11 cases
  • Day v. State ex rel. Utah Dept. of Public Safety
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • May 11, 1999
    ...and highways. Utah cases decided under this provision and its antecedents have specifically imposed such a duty. Howe v. Jackson, 18 Utah 2d 269, 421 P.2d 159, 161-62 (1966), held that even though an ambulance driver was exempt from certain traffic regulations, "he was nevertheless not excu......
  • Hackford v. Utah Power & Light Co.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1987
    ...points out, section 30-2-4 must be interpreted in light of the historical conditions at the time of its enactment. See Howe v. Jackson, 18 Utah 2d 269, 421 P.2d 159 (1966). At common law, the restrictions of coverture required that the husband pursue an action for his wife's personal injuri......
  • Day v. State By and Through Utah Dept. of Public Safety, 930135-CA
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • September 2, 1994
    ...for the safety of all persons." 5 Id. § 41-6-14(3)(a) (repealed effective July 1, 1993) (emphasis added); see also Howe v. Jackson, 18 Utah 2d 269, 421 P.2d 159 (1966) (noting that ambulance driver is required to use reasonable We believe that the clear language of the statute imposes on a ......
  • State v. One (1) Porsche 2-Door, I.D. No. 911211026, Title No. PP10026F Bearing Kansas License Plate No. Jor 1652
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • September 18, 1974
    ...P.2d 468 (1962); Crist v. Bishop, Utah, 520 P.2d 196 (1974); Parker v. Rampton, 28 Utah 2d 36, 497 P.2d 848 (1972); Howe v. Jackson, 18 Utah 2d 269, 421 P.2d 159 (1966).7 Johanson v. Cudahy, 107 Utah 114, 152 P.2d 98 (1944), where we said: '. . . we are cognizant of the fact that we are not......
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