Louis A. Furtado v. George E. Humphrey. Bernard Popkin

Decision Date27 December 1933
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

October 23, 1933.

Present: RUGG, C.


Motor Vehicle Registration. The statement as to the ownership of a motor vehicle, required by G. L.

(Ter. Ed.) c. 90 Section 2, in an application for its registration, is a vital matter, and a registration issued upon an application containing an erroneous statement as to ownership is invalid. A motor truck was not legally registered under G. L. (Ter Ed.) c. 90,

Section 2, where it was owned by a partnership, and a certificate of registration was issued in the trade name used by the partnership upon an application to which one of the partners had signed such name followed by his own name and which contained an affirmative answer to the question, "Is this vehicle owned by you individually?" and no answer to the question, "Or is it owned Jointly or by a Co-partnership

Association or Corporation?": there was nothing in the answers of the partner who signed the application inconsistent with the statement that he owned the truck individually, and his failure to answer the second question showed conclusively that the truck was not registered as partnership property.

Actions for personal injuries sustained by the partner above mentioned and by the operator of the truck in a collision between it and an automobile operated negligently by the defendant, and an action by the partnership for damage to the truck sustained in the collision, were barred by G. L.

(Ter. Ed.) c. 90, Section 9.

THREE ACTIONS OF TORT. Writ in the first action dated March 10, 1931, and in the second and third actions dated May 8, 1931.

The actions were tried together in the Superior Court before Walsh, J. It appeared that the certificate of registration of the motor truck was issued in the name of the

United Produce Company. Other material evidence is stated in the opinion. The judge denied a motion by the defendant in each action that a verdict be ordered in his favor. There were verdicts for the plaintiffs in the sums, respectively, of $700, $700 and $100. The defendant alleged exceptions.

F. E. Smith, for the defendant. J. L. Hurley, for the plaintiff Furtado.

M. Entin, for the plaintiffs Popkin and others, submitted a brief.

PIERCE, J. These are three actions of tort tried together to a jury. In the first two cases the plaintiffs, as individuals, sought recovery for personal injuries sustained in a collision between a motor truck, belonging to the plaintiff partnership, and a touring car, owned and operated by the defendant, at the corner of Broadway and Washington Street in Taunton, Massachusetts, on February 16, 1931, at about six o'clock in the morning. The third action, as amended, was brought by the aforesaid partnership to recover damages alleged to have been sustained by its truck in the said collision.

At the trial there was uncontradicted evidence that, at the time of the collision, the plaintiffs in the third action were a partnership dealing in fruits and produce in Fall River Massachusetts; that the firm consisted of Nathan Warren, Bernard Popkin (the plaintiff in the second case), and Morris Kerness; that the said Popkin was on the front seat of the truck with the partnership chauffeur (the plaintiff in the first case, Louis A. Furtado), and that they were going to Boston on business of the partnership.

The defendant concedes "that there was evidence upon which the jury could have found him negligent." He states that "The sole question sought to be determined by [the] . . . exceptions relates to the validity of the registration of the truck involved in this accident," and concedes that "If the registration was valid and the case properly submitted to the jury . . . judgment should be entered on the verdicts for the plaintiffs." Accordingly, these exceptions are considered on the footing that the only question for determination is that of the validity of the registration of the truck.

The evidence received at the trial discloses that the plaintiff Popkin, a member of the plaintiff partnership (which was called "United Produce Company"), filed the original application for registration of the truck here involved and that this original application, introduced in evidence and marked Exhibit 9, was signed "United Produce Co. By B Popkin." Respecting this application Popkin "was shown Exhibit 9 and stated that he had filled out the...

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