Kohler v. Railroad Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtMitchell
Citation135 Pa. 346
Decision Date26 May 1890
PartiesJAMES A. KOHLER v. PENNSYLVANIA R. CO.

Page 346

135 Pa. 346
JAMES A. KOHLER v. PENNSYLVANIA R. CO.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued April 22, 1890.
Decided May 26, 1890.

Before PAXSON, C. J., STERRETT, GREEN, CLARK, WILLIAMS and MITCHELL, JJ.

APPEAL BY PLAINTIFF FROM THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF HUNTINGDON COUNTY.

No. 50 January Term 1890, Sup. Ct.; court below, No. 58 September Term 1888, C. P.

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Mr. George B. Orlady (with him Mr. L. S. Geissinger), for the appellant:

1. While the motion for a nonsuit was not granted, the trial was ended with like effect as if it had been. Such a motion is in effect a demurrer to the plaintiff's evidence, and every reasonable inference of fact which a jury might draw in the plaintiff's favor must be drawn by the court. When material facts are disputed or even in doubt, or inferences of fact are to be drawn from the testimony, it is the exclusive province of the jury to determine what the facts are: Fisher v. Railroad Co., 131 Pa. 292; Corbalis v. Newberry Tp., 132 Pa. 9; Sidney Sch. Fur. Co. v. Warsaw Sch. D., 122 Pa. 494; Abraham v. Mitchell, 112 Pa. 230; McNeal v. Railway Co., 131 Pa. 184. The court should not adopt the statement of a single witness for the plaintiff, in seeming conflict with the testimony of his other witnesses, as the measure of his whole case, but should permit the jury to determine what weight to give to each witness in view of his intelligence, means of knowledge and manner of testifying, and in the light of the testimony of the other witnesses as to the same facts: Penna. R. Co. v. Fortney, 90 Pa. 323.

2. What constitutes negligence when the standard shifts, not according to any certain rule, depends upon the facts and circumstances developed by the testimony, and must be submitted to the jury. Judges should not ignore this time-honored rule, but should be careful not to usurp the province of the jury and determine questions of fact: Delaware etc. R. Co. v. Jones, 128 Pa. 308. The relation of carrier and passenger had commenced when the plaintiff walked across the north track: Patterson's Ry. Acc. Law, 213. The defendant was as much required to furnish him a safe means of going to the car, as it is to provide a safe roadbed and cars and competent conductors and agents, after a passenger has boarded a train. Acting on the presumption of his safety in the observance of the defendant's own rules, which prohibited the use of the north track by trains at that time, Kohler, after stopping, looking and listening, walked directly to the proper place to take his train.

3. It was not necessary for him to stop, look and listen after he started across the track: Penna. R. Co. v. Garvey, 108 Pa.

Page 354

369. Whether he was prudent or reckless, was for the determination of the jury, on a consideration of all the circumstances: Schum v. Railroad Co., 107 Pa. 8; Penna. R. Co. v. Coon, 111 Pa. 430; Penna. R. Co. v. Lyons, 129 Pa. 113; Pittsburgh etc. Ry. Co. v. Kane, 5 Cent. R. 909. Whether the freight train was in view at the time the plaintiff looked, was, under all the testimony, for the jury: Penna. R. Co. v. Weber, 76 Pa. 157; Weiss v. Railroad Co., 79 Pa. 387; Penna. R. Co. v. Weiss, 87 Pa. 447; Penna. R. Co. v. White, 88 Pa. 327; Hyatt v. Johnston, 91 Pa. 196; Longenecker v. Railroad Co., 105 Pa. 328; Schum v. Railroad Co., 107 Pa. 8; as also the question whether he stopped at the right time and listened long enough: Penna. R. Co. v. Ogier, 35 Pa. 60; Phila. etc. R. Co. v. Hagan, 47 Pa. 244; North Penna. R. Co. v. Heileman, 49 Pa. 60; Penna. R. Co. v. Ackerman, 74 Pa. 265.

4. When a passenger is placed in peril by the default of the railroad company, it is for the jury to say whether his act was negligent or not, and they must consider all the circumstances: Penna. R. Co. v. Lyons, 129 Pa. 113. The slightest neglect, occasioning injury to a passenger, renders the carrier liable: Meier v. Railroad Co., 64 Pa. 225; Phila. etc. R. Co. v. Anderson, 94 Pa. 351; Laing v. Colder, 8 Pa. 479; Hayman v. Railroad Co., 118 Pa. 508; and this applies to the receiving and setting down of passengers, as well as to their carriage: Railroad Co. v. Aspell, 23 Pa. 147. The plaintiff was not on a public crossing but on a crossing provided for the use of passengers. He had a right to assume that the company would not expose him to unnecessary danger, but would observe its own regulations: Archer v. Railroad Co., 9 Cent. R. 233; Penna. R. Co. v. White, 88 Pa. 327. Therefore, in the absence of gross or inexcusable negligence on his part, the question involved was one of fact for the jury: Parsons v. Railroad Co., 113 N. Y. 355 (10 Amer. St. R. 450).

5. It is impossible to formulate a fixed rule of duty applicable to all cases; many things affect the standard of care that may reasonably be required in a particular case: Penna. R. Co. v. Kilgore, 32 Pa. 292; Penna. R. Co. v. Peters, 116 Pa. 206; Penna. R. Co. v. Lyons, 129 Pa. 113. The defendant's negligence, on the one hand, and contributory negligence of the plaintiff, on the other, were both questions of fact for the jury,

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fairly presented by the testimony. There is no absolute rule as to...

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65 practice notes
  • O'donnell v. Philadelphia Record Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 14, 1947
    ...a new trial, and the power to do so, existing in the trial court, ought to be unflinchingly exercised: Kohler v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., 135 Pa. 346, 19 A. 1049.’ One can read the testimony in this case ‘in the light most advantageous to the plaintiff, all conflicts therein being resolved i......
  • Derk v. Northern Cent. Ry. Co., 36
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 1, 1894
    ...not a fact to be decided by the court, but the inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from all the surrounding facts: Kohler v. R.R., 135 Pa. 346; R.R. v. Fortney, 90 Pa. 323; Harris v. Ice Co., 153 Pa. 280; Robb v. Boro., 137 Pa. 42; Ely v. Ry., 158 Pa. 233; Smith v. R.R., 158 Pa. 82; ......
  • Decker v. Lehigh Val. R. Co., 35
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 27, 1897
    ...151 Pa. 234; Feay v. Decamp, 15 S. & R. 227; Corbalis v. Newberry Twp., 135 Pa. 9; Penna. R. Co. v. Weber, 76 Pa. 157; Kohler v. R.R., 135 Pa. 346; Ely v. Ry., 158 Pa. 237; Philpott v. Penna. R. Co., 175 Pa. 570; Whitman v. Penna. R. Co., 156 Pa. 175; McNeal v. Ry., 131 Pa. 184; Lake Shore,......
  • Pierce's Ex'x v. Baltimore & O. R. Co, (No. 5308.)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 9, 1925
    ...upon him may be totally different from that of a person at a public crossing. Pa. Ry. Co. v. White, 88 Pa. 327; Kohler v. Pa. R. Co., 135 Pa. 346 [19 A. 1049]. If the way provided is across a track he may rely upon the performance by the company of the duty to keep the track clear while pas......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
65 cases
  • O'donnell v. Philadelphia Record Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 14, 1947
    ...a new trial, and the power to do so, existing in the trial court, ought to be unflinchingly exercised: Kohler v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., 135 Pa. 346, 19 A. 1049.’ One can read the testimony in this case ‘in the light most advantageous to the plaintiff, all conflicts therein being resolved i......
  • Derk v. Northern Cent. Ry. Co., 36
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 1, 1894
    ...not a fact to be decided by the court, but the inferences and conclusions are to be drawn from all the surrounding facts: Kohler v. R.R., 135 Pa. 346; R.R. v. Fortney, 90 Pa. 323; Harris v. Ice Co., 153 Pa. 280; Robb v. Boro., 137 Pa. 42; Ely v. Ry., 158 Pa. 233; Smith v. R.R., 158 Pa. 82; ......
  • Decker v. Lehigh Val. R. Co., 35
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 27, 1897
    ...151 Pa. 234; Feay v. Decamp, 15 S. & R. 227; Corbalis v. Newberry Twp., 135 Pa. 9; Penna. R. Co. v. Weber, 76 Pa. 157; Kohler v. R.R., 135 Pa. 346; Ely v. Ry., 158 Pa. 237; Philpott v. Penna. R. Co., 175 Pa. 570; Whitman v. Penna. R. Co., 156 Pa. 175; McNeal v. Ry., 131 Pa. 184; Lake Shore,......
  • Pierce's Ex'x v. Baltimore & O. R. Co, (No. 5308.)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 9, 1925
    ...upon him may be totally different from that of a person at a public crossing. Pa. Ry. Co. v. White, 88 Pa. 327; Kohler v. Pa. R. Co., 135 Pa. 346 [19 A. 1049]. If the way provided is across a track he may rely upon the performance by the company of the duty to keep the track clear while pas......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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