Pennsylvania Rd. Co. v. Townsend, 25490

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJONES, J.
Citation200 N.E. 772,130 Ohio St. 554
PartiesThe Pennsylvania Rd. Co. v. Townsend.
Decision Date25 March 1936
Docket Number25490

200 N.E. 772

130 Ohio St. 554

The Pennsylvania Rd. Co.
v.
Townsend.

No. 25490

Supreme Court of Ohio

March 25, 1936


Negligence - Grade-crossing collision of train with automobile - Violation of municipal ordinances proximate cause of driver's injuries - More than three persons riding in automobile front seat - Passengers obstructed driver's view and interfered with control of driving mechanism.

Two city ordinances were in force, one making it unlawful for an operator of a vehicle to drive it when there was on the front seat "such number of persons as to obstruct the view of the operator to the front or sides or to interfere with the operator's control of the driving mechanism of the vehicle"; and another ordinance making it "unlawful for more than three persons to ride in the front seat of an automobile." The evidence adduced by the plaintiff disclosed that, while driving within the city limits over a four-track railroad crossing, he, the operator of the car, by loading its single seat with five person other than himself, produced a situation which not only interfered with his view of an approaching train, but also interfered with his control of the driving mechanism of his car. Under the facts thus disclosed, reasonable minds could arrive at no other conclusion than that plaintiff's violation of the two city ordinances was a proximate cause of his injury received in a collision with the approaching train.

The parties will be alluded to as they stood in the trial court, where Carl B. Townsend was plaintiff and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was defendant.

In the Common Pleas Court the plaintiff sued for damages resulting from a collision of a train of the defendant with plaintiff's automobile at a grade crossing in the city of Canton. The chief specifications of negligence relied on and pleaded in plaintiff's petition were that the defendant was negligent in not sounding the whistle or ringing the bell as the train approached the crossing, and that the agents of the defendant were negligent in operating the train at a [130 Ohio St. 555] greater speed than twenty miles an hour in violation of a city ordinance.

Denying the allegations of negligence contained in the petition, the defendant, in its answer, pleaded that the plaintiff was operating a coupe carrying five people on his right and that that condition obstructed and interfered with his view of the approaching train from that direction. Defendant also alleged that at the time of the collision two city ordinances were in effect: (1) Making it "unlawful for the operator of any vehicle to drive the same when such vehicle is so loaded or when there are in the front seat of such vehicle such number of persons as to obstruct the view of the operator to the front or sides or to interfere with the operator's control of the driving mechanism of the vehicle," and (2) making it "unlawful for more than three persons to ride in the front seat of an automobile." The answer alleged that the collision was caused by the negligence of the plaintiff in operating his automobile so loaded as to obstruct his view and to interfere with his control of the driving mechanism, and in operating the automobile with more than three persons riding on the front seat, all of which was contrary to the ordinances of the city of Canton.

The cause was tried to a court and jury. During its progress the defendant moved for a directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff's evidence and renewed its motion at the close of the entire evidence. The latter motion was sustained by the trial court, which directed the jury to return a...

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