Jones v. Pennsylvania R. Co.

Decision Date03 July 1944
Docket Number38998
Citation182 S.W.2d 157,353 Mo. 163
PartiesJames Monroe Jones, by Alta L. Van Skyke, His Guardian, Appellant, v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company, a Corporation
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied September 5, 1944.

Appeal from Circuit Court of City of St. Louis; Hon. William K Koerner, Judge.

Affirmed.

Charles P. Noell for appellant; Douglas H. Jones of counsel.

(1) Plaintiff is deprived of federal and state constitutional rights by action of trial court in twice setting aside a jury verdict rendered under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, on ground that such verdict was excessive. Such action deprived plaintiff of a right of trial by jury, and deprived him of property without due process of law, and denied him equal protection of law, and denied him his certain and speedy remedy in courts of justice. Federal Employers' Liability Act, U.S.C. (1934 Ed.), Title 45, Secs. 51-59; Federal Safety Appliance Act, U.S.C. (1934 Ed.), Title 45 Secs. 1-16; Sec. VI, Federal Employers' Liability Act, U.S.C. (1934 Ed.), Title 45, Sec. 56; Federal Employers' Liability Act, Act of Apr. 22, 1908, c. 149, 35 Stat. 65, as amended by Act of Apr. 5, 1910, c. 143, 36 Stat. 291, U.S.C. (1934 Ed.), Title 45, Secs. 51-59; Federal Safety Appliance Act, Act of Mar. 2, 1893, c. 196, 29 Stat. 531, as amended by Act of Mar. 2, 1903, c. 976, 32 Stat. 943, and Act of Apr. 14, 1910, c. 160, 35 Stat. 65, 298, U.S.C. (1934 Ed.), Title 45, Secs. 1-16; Art. VI, Const. of U.S., clause 2; Amend. VII, Const. of U.S.; Amend. XIV, Sec. 1, Const. of U.S.; Secs. 10, 28, 30, Art. II, Const. of Mo. (2) The right of trial by jury must be preserved, Skrivner v. American Car & Foundry Co., 50 S.W.2d 1001. (3) Interpretation of state statutes must be uniform whether plaintiff's rights arise under a federal act or a state statute. Action of court in discriminating against plaintiff because his rights arise under the Federal Act, and applying a different rule than under state cases, is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Brady v. Southern Ry. Co., 64 S.Ct. 232; Rockwood v. Crown Laundry Co., 178 S.W.2d 440; Minnesota, etc., R. Co. v. Bombolis, 241 U.S. 211; St. Louis, etc., R. Co. v. Brown, 241 U.S. 223; Chesapeake, etc., R. Co. v. Carnahan, 241 U.S. 241; Louisville, etc., R. Co. v. Stewart, 241 U.S. 261; Chesapeake, etc., R. Co. v. Kelly, 241 U.S. 485; Chesapeake, etc., R. Co. v. Gainey, 241 U.S. 494; Bayliss v. Travelers' Ins. Co., 113 U.S. 320. (4) Improper setting aside of jury verdict is denial of constitutional right of trial by jury. Hughey v. Sullivan, 80 F. 76; Bayliss v. Travelers' Ins. Co., 113 U.S. 320; Arkansas Valley Land, etc., Co. v. Mann, 130 U.S. 72. (5) State statutes denying court power to set aside jury verdict more than once on weight of evidence are constitutional and must be followed. L. & N.R. Co. v. Woodson, 134 U.S. 623, 33 L.Ed. 1032. (6) To compel plaintiff to repeatedly retry his case, because a trial judge disagrees with twenty-four jurors as to amount of damages, denies him a sure and speedy remedy in courts of justice. State ex rel. v. Remmers, 340 Mo. 126, 101 S.W.2d 70; State ex rel. v. Seehorn, 127 S.W.2d 418; White v. Delano, 270 Mo. 16, 191 S.W. 1012; State ex rel. v. Johnson, 266 Mo. 662, 182 S.W. 969. (7) Such action deprives him of due process under the State Constitution. Meierhoffer v. Hansel, 294 Mo. 195, 243 S.W. 131; Union Cemetery Assn. v. Kansas City, 252 Mo. 466, 161 S.W. 261. (8) Missouri statutes prohibit the trial court from granting two new trials as against the weight of evidence. The court's action in granting a second new trial to defendant on the ground that the verdict was excessive was null and void and the judgment must be reversed. Sec. 1169, R.S. 1939. (9) The statute is constitutional and must be followed. Gately v. St. Louis-S.F.R. Co., 332 Mo. 1, 56 S.W.2d 54; State ex rel. Albers v. Horner, 86 Mo. 17; Boyce's Admr. v. Smith's Admr., 16 Mo. 317. (10) A grant of a new trial on ground of excessiveness is same as against weight of evidence. Nelson v. Heine Boiler Co., 323 Mo. 826, 20 S.W.2d 906. (11) The statute has been enforced in all state cases. Hill v. Wilkins, 4 Mo. 86; Kreis v. Mo. Pac. Ry. Co., 33 S.W. 1150, 131 Mo. 533; McFarland v. United States Mut. Acc. Assn. of City of New York, 27 S.W. 436, 124 Mo. 204; King v. Mann, 286 S.W. 100, 315 Mo. 318, affirming 235 S.W. 506, 208 Mo.App. 642; Clarkson v. Garvey, 161 S.W. 664, 179 Mo.App. 9; Reissman v. Wells, 258 S.W. 43; Karnes v. Winn, 126 Mo.App. 712, 105 S.W. 1098; Stegner v. M.-K.-T.R. Co., 333 Mo. 1182, 64 S.W.2d 691; Hunt v. Gillerman, 39 S.W.2d 369, 327 Mo. 887; Herbert v. Hawley, 32 S.W.2d 1095; Lawson v. East St. Louis Ry. Co., 76 S.W.2d 454; Jones v. Reilener, 67 S.W.2d 813; Hanheide v. Supreme Tribe of Ben Hur, 223 S.W. 684, l.c. 688; Boyce's Admr. v. Smith's Admr., 16 Mo. 317; Sofian v. Douglas, 324 Mo. 258, 23 S.W.2d 126; Van Loon v. St. Joseph L. & P. Co., 271 Mo. 209, 195 S.W. 737; Troll v. Protected Home Circle, 161 Mo.App. 719, 141 S.W. 916; McFarland v. U.S. Mut. Accident Assn., 124 Mo. 204, 27 S.W. 436. (12) An award of $ 203,167 for boy of 19, with forty-six years expectancy, for loss of leg, fractures of back, both hip sockets crushed and other terrible injuries, rendering plaintiff a total, permanent, helpless cripple, with loss of earnings of $ 3000 per year and with necessary expenses of $ 10,000 per year, is not excessive. In cases arising under the Federal Liability Act, federal decisions control. Mooney v. Terminal Railroad Assn., 176 S.W.2d 605; Sheehan v. Terminal Railroad Assn., 336 Mo. 709, 127 S.W.2d 657. (13) Present value of future loss is measure of damages. Gulf, C. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Moser, 275 U.S. 133, 48 S.Ct. 49; Mattan v. Hoover, 166 S.W.2d 557; West v. Kurn, 148 S.W.2d 752; Truesdale v. Wheelock, 335 Mo. 924, 74 S.W.2d 585; Sheehan v. Terminal, 127 S.W.2d 657; Kentucky Co. v. Wells, 149 Ky. 275, 148 S.W. 375. (14) Alleged excessiveness of verdict in an action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act is not for the consideration of either the trial court or the appellate court, but is a matter exclusively for the jury. Stott v. Thompson, 294 Ill.App. 450, 14 N.E.2d 246, certiorari denied 305 U.S. 639, 59 S.Ct. 106, 83 L.Ed. 411; Mickel v. Thompson, 348 Mo. 991, 156 S.W.2d 721. (15) Defendant's cases not applicable. Span v. Jackson Mining Co., 322 Mo. 158, 16 S.W.2d 190; Rose v. Mo. District Tel. Co., 328 Mo. 1009, 43 S.W.2d 562; Aly v. Terminal Railroad Assn., 342 Mo. 1116, 119 S.W.2d 363, certiorari denied 305 U.S. 655, 59 S.Ct. 251; Schleappe v. Terminal Railroad Assn., 339 Mo. 562, 98 S.W.2d 616. (16) Prior decisions are merely advisory and not controlling on the question of excessive or inadequate damages in injury cases. Willis v. A., T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 178 S.W.2d 341; Colwell v. St. Louis & S.F. Ry. Co., 335 Mo. 494, 73 S.W.2d 222; Lynch v. Baldwin, 117 S.W.2d 273; Harrison v. St. Louis & S.F. Ry. Co., 339 Mo. 821, 99 S.W.2d 841; Kimberling v. Wabash Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 702, 85 S.W.2d 736. (17) Jury's verdict should not be disturbed. Orr v. Shell Oil Co., 177 S.W.2d 608; Webb v. M.-K.-T.R. Co., 116 S.W.2d 27; Grott v. Johnson-Stephens-Shinkle Shoe Co., 2 S.W.2d 785; Evans v. General Explosive Co., 293 Mo. 364, 239 S.W. 487; Schaefer v. Transamerican Freight Lines, 173 S.W.2d 20; Yakubinis v. M.-K.-T.R. Co., 345 Mo. 943, 137 S.W.2d 504; Hoelzel v. Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. Co., 337 Mo. 61, 85 S.W.2d 126; Harlan v. Wabash Ry. Co., 335 Mo. 414, 73 S.W.2d 749; O'Brien v. Rindskopf, 334 Mo. 1233, 70 S.W.2d 1085; Brunk v. Hamilton-Brown Shoe Co., 334 Mo. 517, 66 S.W.2d 903. (18) Purchasing power of money must be considered. Hurst v. C., B. & Q.R. Co., 280 Mo. 566, 219 S.W. 566. (19) Substantial verdicts upheld in other states. McDonald v. Standard Gas Engine Co., 47 P.2d 777; Lindemann v. San Joaquin Cotton Oil Co., 43 P. 836; T.C. & O. v. Miller, 108 Ohio St. 388, 140 N.E. 617; Rozenzweig v. Hines, 285 F. 622; Meng v. Emigrant Saving Bank, 169 A.D. 27, 154 N.Y.S. 509; Beaumont S. & L.R. Co. v. Sterling, 260 S.W. 320.

Fordyce, White, Mayne, Williams & Hartman, E. C. Hartman and F. W. Schwarz for respondent.

(1) The ground stated by the trial court for sustaining defendant's motion for a new trial was misbehavior on the part of the jury within the meaning of Section 1169, R.S 1939; this being a matter within the wide discretion of the trial court, the appellate court, in the absence of clear abuse on the part of the trial court, should not interfere with such ruling. Stetzler v. Railway Co., 210 Mo. 704, 109 S.W. 666; Tatlow v. Grantham, 66 Mo.App. 509; Spelky v. Kissel-Skiles, 54 S.W.2d 761. (2) The presumption obtains that the trial court followed the law and acted rightly and did not violate Section 1169, R.S. 1939, in granting a second trial. King v. Mann, 315 Mo. 318, 286 S.W. 100; Oliver v. St. Louis-S.F. Ry. Co., 211 S.W. 699. (3) The trial court ruled that the verdict of the jury was the result of passion, prejudice and sympathy. In a Federal Employers' Liability case, such a verdict cannot be cured by remittitur but a new trial must be ordered. Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Ry. Co. v. Moquin, 283 U.S. 520, 75 Law Ed. 1243. (4) And this rule applies even when the jurisprudence of the State does not entitle defendant to a new trial, as, for instance, the provisions of Section 1169, R.S. 1939, notwithstanding. (5) The defendant was entitled to a new trial on ground number twenty in its motion for a new trial, namely, because the court committed prejudicial error against defendant in permitting plaintiff to be disrobed and exhibiting plaintiff's injuries and making a demonstration thereof before the jury. Wagner v. Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. Co., 277 Ill. 114, 115 N.E. 201; Turnbow v. Kansas City Rys. Co., 277...

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