Pittsburgh v. Hixon

CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
Citation110 Ind. 225,11 N.E. 285
Decision Date31 March 1887
PartiesPittsburgh, C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Hixon.

110 Ind. 225
11 N.E. 285

Pittsburgh, C. & St. L. Ry. Co.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

March 31, 1887.

Appeal from circuit court, Lake county.

N. O. Ross, for appellant. E. Griffin & Son, for appellee.


Errors are assigned here in this cause by appellant, the defendant below, which call in question the overruling of (1) its demurrers to each of the paragraphs of appellee's complaint; (2) its motion for a venire de novo; (3) its motion for a new trial; and (4) its motion in arrest of judgment.

The cause is now here for the second time. On the former appeal herein, the opinion and decision of this court are reported under the title of Pittsburgh, etc., Ry. Co. v. Hixon, 79 Ind. 111. It was there said: “Following the case of Pittsburgh, etc., Ry. Co. v. Culver, 60 Ind. 469, the complaint in the case at bar must be held insufficient for want of an averment that the fire was permitted to escape upon the plaintiff's land by the negligence of the appellant,” etc. The judgment below was then reversed, and the cause was remanded for a new trial, with instructions to permit the appellee to amend each paragraph of his complaint. After the return of the cause into the court below, appellee amended each paragraph of his complaint, in accordance with the opinion of this court on the former appeal herein, by averring therein that the coals negligently dropped, and sparks emitted from appellant's locomotive

[11 N.E. 286]

engine, set on fire an accumulation of dry grass, weeds, rubbish, and other combustibles, negligently suffered to gather beside appellant's railroad track and on its right of way; and said fire, through the medium of such dry grass, weeds, rubbish, and other combustibles, so gathered on its right of way, was by appellant negligently allowed to escape from its right of way, and communicate to appellee's lands, and to the roots of the growing grass and the hay in his field, and his hay so stacked in such field, thereby burning and consuming all such hay, etc. These additional facts were amply sufficient, we think, to supply the averment for the want of which it was held, on the former appeal herein, that each paragraph of appellee's complaint was bad on the demurrer thereto for the want of sufficient facts.

Appellant's learned counsel also claim that each paragraph of the complaint was bad on the demurrer thereto, because the appellee did not aver in either paragraph, with sufficient clearness and certainty, that the burning of and damage to his property occurred without any contributory fault or negligence on his part. Upon this point it was averred by appellee, in each paragraph of his complaint, that the “fire and damage aforesaid were not caused by any negligence on the part of plaintiff.” We are of opinion that this averment, construed as it ought to be under the provisions of our Civil Code, completely negatived the idea, even, that the fire and damage, of which appellee complained, were caused or occasioned in any degree or manner, or to any extent, by any contributory fault or negligence on the part of the appellee. In section 376, Rev. St. 1881, which is substantially a re-enactment of section 90 of the Civil Code of 1852, it is provided as follows: “In the construction of a pleading, for the purpose of determining its effect, its allegations shall be liberally construed, with a view to substantial justice between the parties; but, when the allegations of a pleading are so indefinite or uncertain that the precise nature of the charge or defense is not apparent, the court may require the pleading to be made definite and certain by amendment.” Indiana, B. & W. Ry. Co. v. Overman, 10 N. E. Rep. 575, (decided at this term;) Indiana, B. & W. Ry. Co. v. Dailey, 10 N. E. Rep. 631, (decided at this term.)

Construing the allegations of each paragraph of appellee's complaint herein, as we must, in accordance with these statutory provisions, it must be held, we think, that the court below committed no error in overruling appellant's demurrers to each paragraph of such complaint, upon either of the grounds of objection thereto suggested in argument by its counsel. The very utmost that can be correctly said against any of the allegations of either paragraph of the complaint herein is that the allegations objected to in argument by appellant's counsel are somewhat indefinite and uncertain in their scope and meaning. But it is well settled by our decisions that objections to any pleading, upon the ground of indefiniteness or uncertainty in any of its allegations, cannot be reached nor made available here for any purpose by a demurrer thereto for the want of sufficient facts, but only by a motion for an order requiring the party to make his pleading, or some allegation therein, more definite and certain in the particular objected to or complained of by the objecting party. Cincinnati, etc., R. Co. v. Chester, 57 Ind. 297;Jameson v. Board, etc., 64 Ind. 524;Nowlin v. Whipple, 79 Ind. 481;City of Evansville v. Worthington, 97 Ind. 282;Cleveland, etc., Ry. Co. v. Wynant, 100 Ind. 160;Cincinnati, etc., Ry. Co. v. Gaines, 104 Ind. 526, 4 N. E. Rep. 34, and 5 N. E. Rep. 746; Louisville, etc., Ry. Co. v. Jones, 108 Ind. 551, 9 N. E. Rep. 476.

Appellant's counsel next complain in argument of the alleged error of the trial court in overruling the motion for a venire de novo. It is shown by the record that on the twenty-second day of November, 1882, the jury...

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