Pickett v. Central of Georgia Ry. Co.

Decision Date16 May 1912
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

In an action against a railroad company by a passenger for an injury received by him while alighting from a train at a place a short distance from the depot or station, evidence tending to show a custom of alighting from trains at such place, with the knowledge or consent of the carrier, is admissible.

Where in an action to recover on account of a personal injury, it is sought to recover damages on account of loss of time physician's bills incurred, pain and suffering, and permanent impairment of capacity to labor and earn money, the charge should not confuse the methods for estimating the different elements of damages, or be so shaped as to lead the jury to conclude that there can be no recovery, if the injury to the plaintiff is not permanent.

There was no error in charging to the effect that, if the injured person and the company were equally negligent in the transaction, there could be no recovery.

Error from Superior Court, Marion County; S. P. Gilbert, Judge.

Action by J. M. Pickett against the Central of Georgia Railway Company. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff brings error. Reversed.

J. J Dunham and W. D. Crawford, both of Buena Vista, for plaintiff in error.

C. E Battle and Howell Hollis, both of Columbus, for defendant in error.

LUMPKIN, J. (after stating the facts as above).

1. If an act is obviously negligent, it cannot be justified by proof of a custom to do it. Where the quality of the act as to negligence or diligence is not clear, there is more reason for admitting evidence of custom as throwing light on the subject. It is not necessary here to discuss fully the cases in which it has been held that proof of a custom is admissible, and those in which it has been held to be inadmissible. Confining our consideration to cases like the one in hand, or closely analogous thereto, it is generally held that evidence tending to show a custom or habit of alighting from trains elsewhere than at a depot, with the knowledge or consent of the carrier, is admissible, in an action by a passenger for injuries received while so alighting. Pennsylvania Co. v. McCaffrey, 173 Ill. 169 (6), 50 N.E. 713; Chicago City Ry. v. Lowitz, 218 Ill. 24, 75 N.E. 755; Keating v. New York Central R. Co., 49 N.Y. 673; McGee v. Missouri Pacific Ry. Co., 92 Mo. 208, 4 S.W. 739, 1 Am.St.Rep. 706; Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Kane, 69 Md. 11, 22, 13 A. 387, 9 Am.St.Rep. 387; McDonald v. Chicago & Northwestern R. Co., 26 Iowa 139, 142; Nicholson v. Lancastershire & Yorkshire Ry. Co., 3 Hurl. & Colt. (Exch.) 534. The fact that the witness, who offered to testify as to the custom of stopping at a place a short distance from the station and permitting passengers to alight there, also stated that the conductor requested them to do so did not render the evidence inadmissible. It tended to show that the company not only stopped its train at that point, when there was shifting to be done, and permitted passengers, with its knowledge, to alight there, but that its conductor asked that they do so. That the conductor did not make such a request on the occasion when the plaintiff was injured did not render the evidence inadmissible as tending to show the existence of the custom and the knowledge of it and acquiescence in it on the part of the company's...

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