Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co, No. 14689.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtSTABLER, Chief Justice
Citation187 S.C. 195,197 S.E. 673
PartiesKNEECE et al. v. SOUTHERN RY. CO. et al.
Decision Date24 May 1938
Docket NumberNo. 14689.

187 S.C. 195
197 S.E. 673

KNEECE et al.
v.
SOUTHERN RY.
CO. et al.

No. 14689.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

May 24, 1938.


[197 S.E. 674]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Aiken County; H. F. Rice, Judge.

Action by Ashby Kneece and another, as administrators of the Estate of W. L. Kneece, deceased, against the Southern Railway Company and another for death of deceased in collision of automobile with freight train. Judgment for plaintiffs, and defendants appeal.

Affirmed.

Hendersons & Salley, of Aiken, and Frank G. Tompkins, of Columbia, for appellants.

Williams & Busbee, of Aiken, for respondents.

STABLER, Chief Justice.

This action, one in which both actual and punitive damages were sought, was brought for the benefit of the mother of one W. L. Kneece, deceased, who met his death on the night of April 13, 1935, when his automobile, in which he was riding alone, ran into a freight train of the defendant company at a highway crossing in the town of Monetta, in Aiken County. The railroad, which runs north and south through the village, crosses paved highway No. 39, running east and west, within the limits of the town. The paved portion of this highway is eighteen feet wide and is straight from highway 23--which runs west of the town--for about one-third of a mile to the crossing.

The deceased at the time of his death was nineteen years old, and lived with his mother on her farm about five miles east of the village of Monetta. On the night in question, he went in his Ford car to visit a young lady in the town of Bates-burg. Sometime during the evening they drove to the home of Miss Elizabeth Warren, who lived about a mile and a half west of Monetta. At the conclusion of their visit, they returned to Batesburg, where the young man stayed until shortly after twelve o'clock, when he went back to the home of Miss Warren for the purpose of taking to her a pair of gloves. He left there, after a short time, for his own home, going by the way of and entering Monetta on highway 39 from the west. The boxcar of the freight train with which he collided at the crossing was loaded with lumber. About 6:30 o'clock that morning, the dead body of Kneece and his wrecked automobile were found together just beyond a mail crane, which was about eighty-seven feet north from the center of the paved highway, and which "had been knocked down and was torn up."

The plaintiffs alleged that the train in question, traveling north, arrived at Monetta about 12:45 in the nighttime on the date named, and that the defendants caused such train to stop over and upon the said crossing, completely obstructing the public highway for an unreasonable length of time, and failed to use such precautionary measures as were necessary and proper in the circumstances to prevent injury to the traveling public; the death of plaintiffs' intestate being due, it was charged, to the negligent, reckless and wilful acts and conduct of the defendants, in the following particulars:

"(a) The defendants, without placing any warning, either light, person or signal, left the train of cars above mentioned across the highway and street aforesaid for fifteen or twenty minutes, an unreasonable length of time knowing that said public highway was extensively travelled and that it was dangerous to leave said train across said crossing as aforesaid, although it was the duty of the defendants and a rule of the defendant railway company not to obstruct said crossing with the said train of cars, without leaving some warning to protect said train, and without leaving lights or a trainman to warn travellers upon said highway and street crossing.

"(b) Defendants sent the flagman back beyond the rear of the train with the lights and sent the brakeman with the shifting part of the train, and left no one to protect the train at said crossing, in violation of the rule quoted herein and in violation of their duty to plaintiffs' intestate and others travelling said highway.

"(c) And after plaintiffs' intestate, not warned or conscious of the presence of said train, so obstructing said highway and street as aforesaid, ran into and under one of the freight cars across said street and crossing; and was stunned, and there held disabled, in that condition and dangerous predicament, by being wedged and fastened thereunder, in violation of the rules governing the conduct of the defendants and in breach of their duties to plaintiffs' intestate and the public using and travelling said highway and street, a street and highway that had been travelled for more than twenty years next before said date, so known to the defendants, the engineer in

[197 S.E. 675]

charge of said shifting part of the train and the conductor in charge of the dead train, ran said train back to and coupled it with that part of the train across and obstructing said street and crossing, and pulled the same away without having any trainmen, signal or other thing or person to protect said obstructing portion of the train or crossing, either when running the same back thereto or previous to that time, and coupled the same with said obstructing portion of the train and pulled the same away on its journey towards Batesburg, and thereby in the manner aforesaid, carried plaintiffs' intestate's automobile and plaintiffs' intestate along therewith until it reached a mail crane post, where the automobile lodged against said crane post and the train demolished the automobile and further injured the plaintiffs' intestate, from all of which injuries plaintiffs' intestate some time before daylight died; but said train went on its way toward Batesburg with the wheels of one of the freight car trucks running on the cross-ties without even pretending to know that anything had happened out of the ordinary."

The answers of the defendants, in addition to setting up a counterclaim for alleged damages done to about five miles of the company's railroad track, as a result of the derailment of one of its cars, a part of the train in question, interposed a general denial and pleas of contributory negligence and of wilfulness and wantonness. The specifications of these pleas were to the general effect that the plaintiffs' intestate operated his automobile, at the time named, without keeping a proper lookout for the train, at a high and excessive rate of speed and in violation of the twenty-mile speed limit which was in effect in the town of Monetta; and that he drove his car "with terrific force and without proper brakes and without proper lights into the train of the defendant company."

On trial of the case, in June, 1937, the defense, at the close of all the evidence, moved for a directed verdict upon the following grounds: (1) That there was no proof of any actionable negligence, or of any recklessness or wilfulness, on the part of the defendants; (2) that the "only reasonable inference to be drawn from all of the testimony presented herein is" that plaintiffs' intestate was guilty of contributory negligence, and of contributory reck...

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10 practice notes
  • Green v. Gulf, M. & O. R. Co., No. 42223
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 21, 1962
    ...Hendrickson v. Union Pacific R. Co. et al. (1934), 17 Wash.2d 548, 136 P.2d 438, 439, 161 A.L.R. 96; Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co. (1938), 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; Callaway v. Adams (1949), 252 Ala. 136, 40 So.2d 73; Albertson v. Wabash R. Co. et al. (1952), 363 Mo. 696, 253 S.W.2d 184; Atl......
  • Peagler v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., No. 17503
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 12, 1959
    ...Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Spiers v. Atlantic C[oast] L[ine] R. Co., 174 S.C. 508, 178 S.E. 136; Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673, and the numerous earlier cases therein 'We are not unmindful of the principles long established by this court that it is 'al......
  • Jones v. Southern Ry. Co., No. 17756
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 15, 1961
    ...v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 147 S.C. 227, 145 S.E. 135; Funderburk v. Powell, 181 S.C. 412, 187 S.E. 742; Kneece v. Southern R. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; or a highway; Myers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Spiers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 174 S.C. 5......
  • Curry v. United States, Civ. A. 1370.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • January 20, 1954
    ...operating instructions, constitutes not only negligence but gross negligence, recklessness and wilfulness. Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; Brown v. Powell, 198 S.C. 403, 18 S.E.2d 212; Myers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Bober v. Southern......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Green v. Gulf, M. & O. R. Co., No. 42223
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • May 21, 1962
    ...Hendrickson v. Union Pacific R. Co. et al. (1934), 17 Wash.2d 548, 136 P.2d 438, 439, 161 A.L.R. 96; Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co. (1938), 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; Callaway v. Adams (1949), 252 Ala. 136, 40 So.2d 73; Albertson v. Wabash R. Co. et al. (1952), 363 Mo. 696, 253 S.W.2d 184; Atl......
  • Peagler v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., No. 17503
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 12, 1959
    ...Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Spiers v. Atlantic C[oast] L[ine] R. Co., 174 S.C. 508, 178 S.E. 136; Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673, and the numerous earlier cases therein 'We are not unmindful of the principles long established by this court that it is 'al......
  • Jones v. Southern Ry. Co., No. 17756
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 15, 1961
    ...v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 147 S.C. 227, 145 S.E. 135; Funderburk v. Powell, 181 S.C. 412, 187 S.E. 742; Kneece v. Southern R. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; or a highway; Myers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Spiers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 174 S.C. 5......
  • Curry v. United States, Civ. A. 1370.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • January 20, 1954
    ...operating instructions, constitutes not only negligence but gross negligence, recklessness and wilfulness. Kneece v. Southern Ry. Co., 187 S.C. 195, 197 S.E. 673; Brown v. Powell, 198 S.C. 403, 18 S.E.2d 212; Myers v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 172 S.C. 236, 173 S.E. 812; Bober v. Southern......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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