Jack Cole Company v. Hudson, 25106.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Citation409 F.2d 188
Docket NumberNo. 25106.,25106.
PartiesJACK COLE COMPANY and Dixie Highway Express, Inc., Appellants, v. Mrs. W. H. HUDSON, Appellee.
Decision Date03 April 1969

E. L. Snow, Arlo Temple, Snow, Covington, Temple & Watts, Meridian, Miss., for appellants.

P. Gerald Adams, Meridian, Miss., for appellee.

Before GOLDBERG and AINSWORTH, Circuit Judges, and SPEARS, District Judge.

SPEARS, District Judge:

This is an appeal by both corporate defendants in a diversity suit from the trial court's denial of their motions for directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The plaintiff had alleged that under the doctrine of respondeat superior the defendants were liable to her for the injuries she suffered when a large truck bearing the name of one of the defendants forced her automobile off the highway. The jury found each of the defendants liable to plaintiff in the amount of $8,630.00. We affirm.

The parties will be referred to as they were in the trial court.

Defendants' position is that they cannot be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, because there is no evidence that the offending truck was owned by either of them, or that the driver was an employee who was furthering the business of one of them at the time of the accident. The basic question raised by this appeal is whether the testimony of witnesses, together with any presumptions that the evidence has raised, warranted the trial court's submission of those issues to the jury.


On May 3, 1966, plaintiff, a 69 year old woman, was driving her automobile in a southerly direction on U. S. Highway 11 between Meridian and Laurel, Mississippi. At about 1:30 p. m., as she approached an incline and a curve in the road she discovered that a large yellow-colored truck was coming upon her from behind and blowing its horn. It then pulled out and attempted to pass her, despite the fact that in the lane in which they were traveling there was a yellow line painted to indicate a no passing zone. Before the truck had completely passed plaintiff's automobile, it pulled back into the right hand lane, apparently hitting the front part of plaintiff's automobile and forcing her off the road. She lost control of her car, and it eventually crossed the highway, climbed a steep incline, and slid down into the ditch bordering the east edge of the highway. The offending truck did not stop to render aid, and although investigating officers made efforts to locate it and to intercept it farther down Highway 11, it was never found.

Plaintiff produced four witnesses, all women, who saw the accident. Three of them were traveling together in an automobile in a northerly direction on Highway 11 (the direction opposite that in which plaintiff and the truck were traveling). All three testified they saw that the truck had pulled out into their lane and was apparently trying to pass the automobile driven by plaintiff. When it appeared that the truck might not be able to complete this maneuver and return to the right hand lane in time, the driver slowed her automobile and stopped it on the highway. Even at that, the testimony was that the truck came close to colliding with their automobile. All three women saw the automobile of plaintiff go out of control immediately upon the truck's pulling back into its right hand lane. The only description they could give of the offending truck was that it was a tractor-trailer van type, with the tractor portion painted yellow and the words "Jack Cole" painted in large letters over the cab on the front of the aluminum-colored trailer. Neither witness could give a more precise description of the truck or its driver, and neither of them was able to testify as to what printing appeared on the tractor, if indeed there was any printing on it at all.

The plaintiff testified that as the truck approached her from the rear she could see that it was yellow, but she did not read any lettering on it. The fourth witness had been standing near her house east of the highway when she first saw the rear portion of plaintiff's automobile extending behind the truck, and she then saw the automobile go out of control. She said that the trailer of the truck was an aluminum color, but that she did not see any writing on it.

It was established that the Jack Cole Company (hereinafter referred to as "Cole") owns all the stock of the Dixie Highway Express, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as "Dixie"), but that only Dixie had the proper permits to operate on this portion of Highway 11; that defendants together own more than 200 tractors (almost all of which were painted the same shade of yellow), and approximately 700 trailers (many if not all of which were aluminum-colored and bore signs reading "Jack Cole Company"); and that neither of the defendants knew of any of their equipment that might have been stolen on May 3, 1966, the day the accident occurred.

Witnesses for the defendants testified that it is a common practice among truckers to interchange trailers among the various trucking companies in much the same manner that railroad cars are interchanged among railroad companies. When a trucker reaches the limit of the area in which he is authorized to operate, rather than unloading the trailer and loading the freight into another trailer, he merely detaches his trailer and attaches it to the tractor of a company which is authorized to carry the freight on toward its ultimate destination. Thus, the owner of the trailer portion of a truck unit may or may not be the owner of the tractor. Records are kept of trailer interchanges made with other trucking companies, but the records indicate only the company who has the particular trailer and not the route over which the trailer is to travel. Since Cole was the parent corporation of Dixie, there had been devised between these two companies a method of operation that was even easier than the interchanging of trailers. When a Cole truck came to an area where it was not authorized to operate, but where Dixie was authorized, the driver merely placed temporary placards on the side of the tractor covering the Cole identification and identifying the tractor as a Dixie tractor. Moreover, it was shown that several trucking companies authorized to operate in the area had yellow tractors, although there was some indication that the shade of yellow varied among the companies and that the shade used by Cole could be easily distinguished from those used by the others.

From the evidence, it appears that this portion of Highway 11 is on the route used by truckers in carrying freight between the major cities of Birmingham and New Orleans. Agents of Dixie testified that their records showed that only four units had made the trip south from Birmingham to New Orleans on May 3, 1966. The time cards, logs, and personal testimony of the drivers of those units indicate that none of them was in the vicinity of the accident at the time it occurred. The accident occurred at about 1:30 p. m., while the four units passed the scene of the accident at about 8:00 a. m., 11:15 a. m., 4:15 p. m., and 4:30 p. m. respectively. A Dixie truck with a Jack Cole sign on its trailer approached the scene of the accident from the south at about 1:45 p. m., only minutes after the accident occurred. The driver of this truck testified that he had been making the trip north from New Orleans to Birmingham and that he had passed no Jack Cole tractor-trailer units proceeding south that day. He said that he had passed several yellow tractors belonging to other trucking companies, but that he had not paid any attention to the type of trailers they were pulling. He did say, as did officers who testified in the case, that there were several side roads abutting onto Highway 11, immediately south of the accident scene, that were constructed and maintained sufficiently well for heavy trucks to travel over them.

The investigating officers made an attempt to intercept the offending truck farther south on Highway 11. Information about the accident, and a description of the offending truck, were transmitted by radio at 1:52 p. m. to an officer who was then located on Highway 11, about 24 miles south of the scene of the accident, whereupon that officer requested other officers in the area farther south to watch for a Jack Cole truck coming south on Highway 11; and then he stayed on Highway 11 for two hours watching for the truck, but neither he nor the other officers ever reported locating it. However, the first officer did say that in his attempt to locate the hit and run driver he failed to alert officers to watch the side roads already mentioned above.

Dixie had a terminal in Meridian, Mississippi, from which local deliveries were made; and the terminal manager testified that on the day of the accident, there was one local delivery truck with a yellow tractor operating south of Meridian, the area where the accident occurred. However, he said that this local delivery unit differed from the over-the-road units in that the yellow cab was of a different shape and type, and the Jack Cole trailer being used was an open type covered with a green tarpaulin, rather than the van type used on longer hauls.


Plaintiff first argues that defendants may not maintain this appeal because they failed to lay sufficient predicate for their motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Rule 50(b) provides that "a party who has moved for a directed verdict" at the close of all the evidence, may later move to have an adverse judgment set aside and "to have judgment entered in accordance with his motion for a directed verdict". Thus, before a party may move for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict he must have first properly moved for a directed verdict, stating "specific grounds therefor".

At the close of plaintiff's evidence, defendants notified ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 cases
  • Huddell v. Levin
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • May 28, 1975
    ...and counsel aware of her position. The court, therefore, finds substantial compliance with Rule 50. See e. g., Jack Cole Co. v. Hudson, 409 F.2d 188, 191 (5th Cir. 1969). Plaintiff's motion for judgment n. o. v. against Levin and S. Klein will be Even were plaintiff's request for charge dee......
  • Lee v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 72 Civ. 232 (CHT).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • April 26, 1976
    ...one reasonable conclusion as to the proper judgment." 5A J. Moore, Federal Practice ¶ 50.072, at 2356. See also Jack Cole Company v. Hudson, 409 F.2d 188, 191-92 (5th Cir. 1969); Rice v. Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Co., 59 F.R.D. 280, 282 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 484 F.2d 1318 ......
  • Lyall v. City of L. A.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 4, 2015
    ...for the plaintiffs on the ultimate issue in the case (i.e., whether the officers' conduct was reasonable). Cf. Jack Cole Co. v. Hudson, 409 F.2d 188, 191 (5th Cir.1969) (defendants' midtrial "request in chambers that the jury be instructed to find for them" was the equivalent of a motion fo......
  • Bachtel v. Mammoth Bulk Carriers, Ltd., s. 77-3645
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 20, 1979
    ...above expressed, is supported by Oliveras v. American Export Isbrandtsen Lines, Inc., 431 F.2d 814, 817 (CA2 1970); Jack Cole Co. v. Hudson, 409 F.2d 188, 191 (CA5 1969) (requested instruction for a directed verdict is the equivalent of a motion for a directed verdict); and 9 Wright & Mille......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT