Huffman v. Click

Decision Date30 June 1877
Citation77 N.C. 55
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesMARGARET L. HUFFMAN v. JAMES A. CLICK and others.


CIVIL ACTION for Damages tried at Spring Term, 1877, of ROWAN Superior Court, before KERR, J.

It appeared that there was a difficulty between the plaintiff and the defendant, Click, in regard to an injury to a valuable hog of the defendant, alleged to have been received while the hog was in a field cultivated by plaintiff. Click and the other defendants went to the plaintiff's house and demanded pay for the hog. Upon that occasion it was alleged that their manner and conduct so greatly frightened the plaintiff as to cause paralysis from which she suffered for three months. There was much evidence as to the cause of the disease which is sufficiently stated by Mr. Justice BYNUM in delivering the opinion of this Court.

Under the ruling of His Honor in the Court below the jury rendered a verdict for plaintiff. Judgment. Appeal by defendants.

Mr. W. H. Bailey, for plaintiff .

Mr. J. M. McCorkle, for defendants .


The defendants say that the plaintiff was subject to hysteria which is an exciting cause of paralysis and in this case produced it without any default of theirs. To show this, they introduced a witness who testified to certain “mad fits” and crying spells of the plaintiff several years prior to the attack of paralysis. They then introduced a physician who testified that he had heard all the evidence and from it was of opinion that the plaintiff was subject to hysteria, and that this disease was an exciting cause of paralysis. He also testified that “Hammond's Work on the Diseases of the Nervous System” was a standard work with the medical profession.

In addressing the jury the counsel for the defendants insisted that the paralysis was caused by hysteria to whieh the plaintiff was subject. He then proposed to read to the jury extracts from Hammond's Work “to show that the symptoms testified to by one of the witnesses were common in hysteria, and also for the purpose of showing that this disease was one of the exciting causes of paralysis.” The case also states that “the counsel did not propose to read the book as evidence but as a part of his argument.” His Honor refused to allow it to be read, stating that it was not admissible for any purpose. The question is not whether the book was inadmissible for any purpose as stated by His Honor within the latter part of his ruling, but whether it was admissible for the purposes indicated by the defendants' counsel, to-wit; “to show that the symptoms testified to by one of the witnesses were common in hysteria and that this latter disease was one of the exciting causes of paralysis.” How this could be done without making the book evidence of the truth of the facts contained in it, and also evidence to corroborate the professional opinion of the physician, it is hard to conceive. In such works the argument is based upon the facts stated, and the argument and the facts are so blended that the counsel cannot well get the benefit of the one without the benefit of the other.

The physician on examination in this case had the right to refresh his knowledge by referring to standard works in his profession, but his evidence must be his own, independent of the works. He cannot read a medical work to the jury; how then can the counsel do it? If this practice were allowed many of our cases would soon come to be tried, not upon the sworn testimony of living witnesses, but upon publications not written under oath. But whether read as evidence or argument the work was inadmissible. The distinction between books that can and cannot be read is now pretty well defined and established.

It is only necessary now to draw so much of the line of distinction as is applicable in this case and excludes the book...

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28 cases
  • Conn v. Seaboard Air Line Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1931
    ...instances, to read medical books or writings of a scientific nature to the jury. Melvin v. Easley, 46 N.C. 386, 62 Am. Dec. 171; Huffman v. Click, 77 N.C. 55; State v. Rogers, 112 N.C. 874, 17 S.E. Butler v. R. R., 130 N.C. 16, 40 S.E. 770; Lynch v. Mfg. Co., 167 N.C. 98, 83 S.E. 6; Tilghma......
  • Scott v. Astoria R. Co.
    • United States
    • Oregon Supreme Court
    • May 25, 1903
    ...v. Shrock, 110 Ill. 219, 51 Am.Rep. 679; Pinney v. Cahill, 48 Mich. 584, 12 N.W. 862; Marshall v. Brown, 50 Mich. 148, 15 N.W. 55; Huffman v. Click, 77 N.C. 55; City of Ripon Bittel, 30 Wis. 614. Plaintiff's counsel, by securing from Roberts a statement of the authors whose works on civil e......
  • Boltz v. Town of Sullivan
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1899
    ...42 Mich. 206, 3 N. W. 882;Com. v. Sturtivant, 117 Mass. 122;Com. v. Brown, 121 Mass. 69;Whiton v. Insurance Co., 109 Mass. 24;Huffman v. Click, 77 N. C. 55;Gregory's Adm'r v. Railroad Co., 37 W. Va. 606, 16 S. E. 819;Railway Co. v. Wesch (Tex. Civ. App.) 21 S. W. 62;Steffenson v. Railway Co......
  • Elliott v. Tallassee Power Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • June 24, 1925
    ...the argument of counsel or in the charge to the court, for the purpose of establishing a fact or a theory in an inductive science. Huffman v. Click, 77 N.C. 55. Plaintiffs' exception shows no prejudicial error, that the excerpt so read to the jury is in exact accord with the theory upon whi......
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