Meridian Laundry Co., Inc. v. James

Decision Date06 May 1940
Docket Number33974
Citation190 Miss. 119,195 So. 689
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Suggestion Of Error Overruled January 20, 1941.

APPEAL from the circuit court of Lauderdale county HON. ARTHUR G BUSBY, Judge.

Action by Ruth James against the Meridian Laundry Company Incorporated, trading as the Troy Laundry, and others, to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly received by plaintiff in the capacity of a servant for defendant. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendants appeal. Reversed and dismissed.

Reversed and dismissed.

Jacobson & Snow, of Meridian, for appellants.

A servant accepting employment for the performance of specific duties takes upon himself the natural and ordinary perils incident to the service.

Howd v. M. C. R. R., 50 Miss. 178; Yazoo City Truck Co. v. Smith, 28 So. 807, 78 Miss. 140; Natchez Cotton Mill Co. v. McLain, 33 So. 723; Y. & M. V. R. R. Co. v. Hawkins, 61 So. 161, 104 Miss. 55; Cumberland Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Cosnahan, 62 So. 824, 105 Miss. 615; Ingram-Day Lbr. Co. v. Joh, 64 So. 934, 107 Miss. 43; Y. & M. V. Ry. Co. v. Hullum, 80 So. 645, 119 Miss. 229; Crossett Lbr. Co. v. Land, 84 So. 15, 121 Miss. 834; Austin v. M. & O. R. R. Co., 99 So. 3, 134 Miss. 226; G. & S. I. R. R. v. Hales, 105 So. 458, 140 Miss. 829; Vehicle Woodstock Co. v. Boles, 128 So. 98, 158 Miss. 346; Graham v. Goodwin, 156 So. 513, 170 Miss. 896; Anderson-Tully Co. v. Goodin, 163 So. 536, 174 Miss. 162; M. & O. R. R. v. Clay, 125 So. 819, 156 Miss. 463.

There was no causal connection between plaintiff's injuries and any act of appellants. It is well established that in order to warrant a recovery for alleged injuries negligence must not only be proved but causal connection between the negligence claimed and the injury must be shown.

Kramer Service Co. v. Wilkins, 186 So. 625; Pietri v. L. & N. Ry. Co., 119 So. 164, 152 Miss. 185; Thompson v. M. C. R. Co., 166 So. 353, 175 Miss. 547; C. & G. R. R. Co. v. Coleman, 160 So. 277, 172 Miss. 514; J. C. Penney Co. v. Scarbrough, 186 So. 316.

It was intimated and contended on the trial of the case that appellee had been required by appellants to work more than 10 hours per day and more than 60 hours per week in violation of Section 4653 of the Mississippi Code 1930 Annotated. But, appellee was not injured while working over-time and did not claim she was injured while working over-time. The accident is alleged to have occurred around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and it was never contended appellee went to work before 7:30 to 8 o'clock in the morning. It was not shown how long appellee worked any particular day during the week of the accident, and we feel justified in saying she had not been on duty on the day of the accident, at the time of its alleged occurrence, more than six hours. The statute is in derogation of the common law and, therefore, must be strictly construed. The accident occurred at a time when appellee was within the ten hour period permitted, and the statute was not at the time being violated. In order to recover for a violation of the statute undoubtedly the injury must occur at the time of the violation, and as a proximate result thereof. There must be causal connection between the violation of the statute and the injury.

The fact that there has been a violation of an hour's statute does not impose upon the employer violating the statute the obligation of an insurer, and unless the obligation of an insurer was imposed upon appellants in this case under the facts disclosed by the record no recovery can be had.

A. T. & S. F. R. R. Co. v. Swearengen, 60 L.Ed. 317; St. L. I. M. & S. R. R. Co. v. McWhorter, 57 L.Ed. 1179, 1187; Osborne v. C. & O. & T. P. R. R. Co., 158 Ky. 176, 164 S.W. 818; Bjornsen v. N. P. R. R. Co., 84 Wash. 220, 146 P. 575.

If there was any violation of the statute the violation was by appellee voluntarily and without the knowledge of appellants.

Lloyd v. N. C. R. R., 151 N.C. 536, 66 S.E. 604; Melville v. Butte-Balaklona Copper Co., 47 Mont. 1, 130 P. 441; Smith v. A. T. & S. F., 39 Tex.Civ.App. 468, 87 S.W. 1052.

Gilbert & Cameron, E. T. Strange, R. M. Holmes, and E. A. Dunn, all of Meridian, for appellee.

Among the non-delegable duties of a master is that duty imposed by statute to establish and limit the hours of toil for women employees so as not to exceed ten hours a day or sixty hours a week, except in the exceptions written in the statute. A failure in this regard would be a breach of duty, not alone towards the public generally, but specifically a breach of duty towards the individual.

Sec. 4653, Code 1930.

The facts of common knowledge of which the courts may take judicial notice establish conclusively that there is reasonable ground for holding that to permit women to work in a mechanical establishment, or factory, or laundry more than ten hours in one day is dangerous to the public health, safety, morals or welfare.

Holden v. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366, 42 L.Ed. 780; Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412, 52 L.Ed. 551; Miller v. Wilson, 236 U.S. 373, 59 L.Ed. 628; Stettler v. O'Hara, 69 Ore. 519, 139 P. 743; People v. Elleding, 254 Ill. 589, 98 N.E. 982; Am. Car, etc., v. Armentraut, 214 Ill. 509, 73 N.E. 766; Boucher v. Larochille, 74 N.H. 433, 68 A. 870; Buchner v. People (Colo.), 124 Am. St. Rep. 143; Cragg v. Los Angeles, 154 Cal. 663, 98. Pac. 1063; Gundin v. Chicago, 177 U.S. 183, 44 L.Ed. 725; Inland Steel v. Yedinak, 172 Ind. 423, 87 N.E. 229; Jacobson v. Mass., 197 U.S. 11, 49 L.Ed. 643; Lanton v. Steele, 152 U.S. 133, 38 L.Ed. 385; Low v. Reese Printing Co., 41 Neb. 127, 43 Am. St. Rep. 676; McCrary v. Southern Ry., 83 S.C. 103, 65 S.E. 3; Merrill v. Los Angeles, etc., 158 Cal. 499, 111 P. 334; Perlin v. N. Y., etc., 102 A.D. 71, 92 N.Y.Supp. 468; Penn. Co. v. McCarffery, 139 Ind. 430, 38 N.E. 67; Reed v. Southern Ry., 75 S.C. 162, 55 S.E. 218; Republic Iron, etc., v. Ohler, 161 Ind. 393, 68 N.E. 901; Ross v. Schooley, 257 F. 290, 168 C. C. A. 374, 63 L.Ed. 803; Soon Hing Laundry v. Crowley, 113 U.S. 703, 28 L.Ed. 1145; St. Louis, etc., v. McWhirter, 145 Ky. 427, 140 S.W. 672; St. Louis, etc., v. Kelton, 28 Tex.Civ.App. 137, 66 S.W. 887; Ritchie v. Wayman (Ill.), 91 N.E. 695; Starns v. Albion, 147 N.C. 556, 61 S.E. 525; 39 C. J. 294, sec. 420; Handle Co. v. Jack, 149 Miss. 465; Zajkowski v. Am. Steel & Co., 258. Fed. 9.

Appellants were charged with the knowledge that to require appellee to toil in excess of the statutory limit of ten hours a day or sixty hours a week would likely cause injury to her.

Muller v. Oregon, 52 L.Ed. 551; Holden v. Hardy, 42 L.Ed. 780; and the other cases cited above.

We respectively submit that the lifting of the bundles on the day in question merely precipitated the injury. The actual cause was her weakened condition caused by the strain of overwork for many weeks preceding. Having toiled in excess of ten hours a day and sixty hours a week over a long period of time preceding the date of the injury so weakened her body as to make her susceptible to the devastating effect of lifting the bundle in question. The lifting of the bundle did not supersede the original negligence.

Columbus, etc., R. Co. v. Lee, 115 So. 572, 784, 149 Miss. 543; Public Serv. Corp. v. Watts, 150 So. 192, 168 Miss. 235.

The violation of the statute in question cooperated with the immediate act of lifting the bundle of bib-aprons over her head, in such way as to constitute a succession of events so linked together as to form a natural whole.

Gilson v. Delaware, etc., 36 Am. St. Rep. 845; Seith v. Commonwealth, etc., 241 Ill. 252, 132 Am. St. Rep. 204; Miller v. Union Pac. Ry., 290 U.S. 227, 236; Lawrence v. Southern Ry., 169 S.C. 1, 14, 167 S.E. 839; L. & N. R. R. v. Daniels, 135 Miss. 33, 99 So. 434; 45 C. J. 924; Cumberland v. Woodham, 99 Miss. 318, 54 So. 891; Birmingham, etc., v. Hinton, 158 Ala. 470, 48 So. 546; Gulf, etc., R. Co. v. Simmons, 150 Miss. 506, 117 So. 343; Hartwell Handle Co. v. Jack (Miss.), 115 So. 587.

Whether or not appellee's injuries were proximately produced by the violation of the statute is properly a question of fact for the determination of the jury, and the jury having passed on that question adversely to appellants their findings should not be disturbed.

45 C. J. 1318; Lee County, etc., v. Middlebrooks, 161 Miss. 422, 137 So. 108; Southern Ry. v. Floyd, 99 Miss. 519, 55 So. 287; Terry v. N. O., etc., 103 Miss. 679, 60 So. 729.

Appellee was a frail woman, anemic and sickly; and appellants knew this; she requested permission to place the heavy packages of bib-aprons in the lower shelves and was directed to place them in the higher shelves, over her head, or get her another job. This issue has been settled by the jury, the jury finding by their verdict that such direction and threat was made.

Austin v. M. & O., 99 So. 3, 134 Miss. 226; Goodyear Yellow Pine Co. v. Mitchell, 150 So. 792, 168 Miss. 152; Hardaway Const. Co. v. Rivers, 180 So. 800.

The refusal of appellants to furnish appellee assistance was a determination by them that no assistance was needed, and this determination was erroneous under the circumstances of the long hours and arduous tasks required of and performed by appellee. Appellee was given to understand that if she did not place the packages of bib-aprons on the shelf above her head that she could get her time and seek other employment.

Everett Hardware Co. v. Shaw (Miss.), 172 So. 337, 173 So. 411; Sheridan v. Brooklyn, etc., 36 N.Y. 39, 93 Am. Dec. 490.

Argued orally by E. L. Snow, for appellants, and by Chas. B. Cameron, for appellee.

Anderson, J., Smith, C. J., dissenting. Justice Ethridge is of the same opinion.


Anderson, J.

The appellee brought this action in the circuit court of ...

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