Public Service Corporation v. Watts

Decision Date16 October 1933
Docket Number30695
Citation168 Miss. 235,150 So. 192
CourtMississippi Supreme Court
PartiesPUBLIC SERVICE CORPORATION et al. v. WATTS

Division B

Suggestion Of Error Overruled November 13, 1933.

APPEAL from circuit court of Forrest county, HON. W. J. PACK, Judge.

Action by J. A. Watts against Public Service Corporation and another. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendants appeal. Affirmed.

Affirmed.

Luther A. Smith, of Hattiesburg, for appellant Public Service Commission.

The most apparent and obvious fact in this entire record is that the collision between the automobile and the motorcycle was the immediate direct proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries.

Although a defendant may be negligent in the performance or omission of some duty owed to the person injured, no liability attaches unless such negligence was the proximate, rather than the remote, cause of the injury.

45 Corpus Juris, p. 901; Clisby v. Mobile, etc., R Co., 78 Miss. 937, 29 So. 913; Meyer v. King, 72 Miss. 1, 16 So. 245, 35 L. R. A. 474; Crawley v. Richmond, etc., R. Co., 70 Miss. 340, 13 So. 74; 2 Elliot on Railroad (3 Ed.), sec. 842, p. 227; 22 R. C. L., pages 113, 114, par. 3.

As a rule, everyone is liable for his own wrong, and not for that of another. A wrongdoer is responsible for the consequences produced by his own act, but not for what others, acting independently of him and for themselves, may do, even though his act may be the occasion of their doing what they do.

Marqueze v. Sontheimer, 59 Miss. 430; L. & N. R. Co. v. Daniels, 135 Miss. 33, 99 So. 434; Bufkin v. L. & N. R. Co., 137 So. 517; Harton v. Forest City Telephone Co. (N. C.), 14 L. R. A. (N. S.) 956.

An intervening cause will be regarded as the proximate cause, and the first cause as too remote where the chain of events is so broken that they become independent and the result cannot be said to be the natural and probable consequence of the primary cause, or one which ought to have been anticipated. The law will not look back from the injurious consequences beyond the last efficient cause, especially where an intelligent and responsible human being has intervened.

45 C. J. 928; Anderson v. B. & D. R. Co., 81 S.E. 579, 51 L. R. A. (N. S.) 888; Milwaukee & St. P. R. Co. v. Kellogg, 94 U.S. 469, 475, 24 L.Ed. 256, 259; Teis v. Smuggler Mining Co., 158 F. 260, 15 L. R. A. (N. S.) 893; Louisiana Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tweed, 7 Wall, 44, 19 L.Ed. 65; Aetna F. Ins. Co. v. Boon, 95 U.S. 117, 130, 24 L.Ed. 395, 398; Cole v. German Sav. Co., 104 F. 13, 63 L. R. A. 416; Seith v. Commonwealth Electric Company (Ill.), 89 N.E. 425, 24 L. R. A. (N. S.) 978; Alexander v. New Castle, 115 Ind. 51, 17 N.E. 200; Leeds v. N. Y. Tel. Co., 178 N.Y. 118, 70 N.E. 219; Paulton v. Keith, 23 R. I. 164, 49 A. 635, 91 Am. St. Rep. 624; Jones v. City of Fort Dodge (Ia.), 71 N.W. 16; Storey v. New York City, 29 A.D. 316, 51 N.Y.S. 580; Smith v. Ala. Water & Light Co., 142 So. 893; Stanley v. Union Depot R. Co., 21 S.W. 832.

Liability of townships for defects in highway, 13 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1219; De Camp v. Sioux City (Ia.), 37 N.W. 971; Lyons v. Watt (Colo.), 95 P. 949, 18 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1135; Bartram v. Saron (Conn.), 71 Am. St. R. 225; Mahogany v. Ward (R. I.), Am. St. R. 753; Kidder v. Dunstable, 7 Gray 104; Briggs v. Pine River Twp., 150 Mich. 381, 114 N.W. 221; Atchison, T. & S. F. Ry. Co. v. Calhoun, 213 U.S. 1; Wharton on the Law of Negligence, sec. 184; Sherman and Redfield on the Law of Negligence (5 Ed.), sec. 26; Louisiana Mut. Insurance Company v. Tweed, 7 Wall. 44, 52, 19 L.Ed. 65; Steenbock v. Omaha Country Club, 110 Nebr. 794, 195 N.W. 117; Hagerstown v. Foltz (Md.), 104 A. 263; Petty v. Cimarron (Kan.), 225 P. 1033; Lambel v. City of Florence, 222 P. 64; Albany v. Brown (Ga.), 88 S.E. 215; Insurance Co. v. Transportation Co., 12 Wall. 194, 20 L.Ed. 278; Freeman v. Merchants Ass'n, 156 Mass. 353, 30 N.E. 1013, 17 L. R. A. 753; Houston, etc. v. Maxwell (Tex.), 128 S.W. 163; Thurbron v. Dravo, 238 Pa. 443, 86 A. 292, 44 L. R. A. (N. S.) 699; Alabama Power Co. v. Bass (Ala.), 119 So. 625; Sitter's Adm'r v. City of Maysville, 69 S.W. 1074; Furlong v. Roberts, 164 A.D. 458, 150 N.Y.S. 166.

It has been reasoned that the defense that an injury alleged to have been caused by the defendant's negligence was in fact caused by the interposition of an independent act of another, cannot be interposed when that other acted neither maliciously nor negligently. But this is plainly an aberration. It is not at all necessary for the defendant, in the case where he is sued for an injury caused by the act of a third person, to give the plaintiff a tenable action against such third person. If the third person acted independently, of the defendant and if the action of the defendant did not induce his action, then it can make no difference with the rights of the defendant whether the action of the third person was wrongful or meritorious.

1 Thompson on Negligence, sec. 54; Cavanaugh v. Centerville Block Coal Co. (Ia.), 109 N.W. 303; 7 L. R. A. (N. S.) 907; Frazier v. Hull, 127 So. 775; Ulmer v. Pistole, 115 Miss. 485, 76 So. 522; 1 Blashfield's Cyc. of Automobile Law, 438, sec. 10.

The alleged defective condition of the street, was, at worst, a mere condition and not a cause.

Pages 445, 6, 7 of 38 Cyc.; 44 C. J. 910-11; Sec. 491, 45 C. J. 931; Lyons v. Watt (Colo.), 18 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1135; Bruggeman v. City of York (Pa.), 102 A. 415; Parmenter v. City of Marion (Ia.), 85 N.W. 90; 45 C. J. 10-11; 45 C. J., p. 925; Eberhardt v. Glasgow Mut. Tel. Assn., 91 Kan. 763, 139 P. 416; Hartman v. Atchison, etc., R. Co., 94 Kan. 184, 146 P. 335, L. R. A. 1915D, 563; Seith v. Commonwealth Electric Com., 89 N.E. 425, 24 L. R. A. (N. S.) 978; Foster v. City of Union (S. C.), 123 S.E. 839; Orton v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 7 F.2d 36; Steenbock v. Omaha Country Club (Nebr.), 195 N.W. 117; Munsen v. Illinois No. Utilities Co., 258 Ill.App. 438; Haarstrick v. Oregon Short Line R. Co. (Utah), 262 P. 100; Schmidt v. Chicago, etc., R. Co. , 191 Wis. 184, 210 N.W. 370; Smith v. Mead Construction Co. (Kan.), 282 P. 708; Ganpin v. Murphy (Pa.), 145 A. 123; Houston, etc. v. Maxwell (Tex.), 128 S.W. 163; Marbel v. City of Worchester (Mass.), 4 Gray 399.

This accident was not the natural and probable consequence of defendant's alleged negligence and was unforeseeable.

Meyer v. King, 16 So. 245; Rooks v. A. & V. R. Co., 78 Miss. 91; Lee County Gin Co. v. Middlebrooks, 137 So. 108; Wilbourn v. Charleston Cooperage Co., 127 Miss. 290, 90 So. 9; Dix v. Brown, 41 Miss. 131; Merchants Wharfboat v. Wood, 64 Miss. 661, 2 So. 76; Y. & M. V. R. Co. v. Millsaps, 76 Miss. 855, 25 So. 672, 71 Am. St. Rep. 543; L. & N. R. Co. v. Blair, 123 So. 859; Leek Milling Co. v. Langford, 81 Miss. 728; Ozen v. Sperier, 150 Miss. 458, 117 So. 117; Peetri v. L. & N. R. Co., 119 So. 164; I. C. R. Co. v. Wooley, 28 So. 26; 16 Am. & Eng. Enc. Law, 436; 45 C. J., p. 911; Stone v. Boston, etc., R. Co., 171 Mass. 536, 41 L. R. A. 794; South Side Pass. R. Co. v. Trich, 117 Pa. 390, 2 Am. St. Rep. 627, 11 A. 627.

Under the law one is not required to anticipate carelessness of others.

Teis v. Smuggler, 158 F. 260, 15 L. R. A. (N. S.) 893; Lemos v. Madden, 28 Wyo. 1, 10, 200 P. 691; Scheffer v. Washington, 105 U.S. 249, 26 L.Ed. 1070; Kreigh v. Westinghouse, etc. Co., 152 F. 120, 11 L. R. A. (N. S.) 684; Andrews v. Chicago, etc. (Ia.), 105 N.W. 404; American Bridge Co. v. Seeds, 144 F. 605; Harton v. Forest City Tel. Co., 14 L. R. A. (N. S.) 956, 14 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cases 390; Lusitania, 251 F. 732; Republic of France v. French Overseas Co., 277 U.S. 334; Burt v. Advertiser Newspaper Co., 154 Mass. 238, 13 L. R. A. 97; Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Bloodworth, 145 So. 332; McComb City v. Haymen, 124 Miss. 525, 87 So. 12.

The plaintiff must aver and prove foreseeability.

Meyer v. King, 16 So. 245; Poland v. Earhart, 70 Iowa 285, 30 N.W. 637; Carter v. Towne, 98 Mass. 567; Pietri v. L. & N., 119 So. 164; Cole v. German Savings, etc., Society, 124 F. 113, 59 C. C. A. 593, 63 L. R. A. 416.

Stevens & Heidelberg, of Hattiesburg, for appellant, City of Hattiesburg.

Municipal corporations are not liable for every accident that may happen in their streets. They are not insurers of the safety of those who use them. Their duty is discharged when they have made them reasonably safe for people of ordinary prudence.

Nesbit v. City of Greenville, 69 Miss. 22, 10 So. 452, 30 Am. St. Rep. 521; Pomes v. McComb City, 121 Miss. 425, 83 So. 636; City of Meridian v. Crook, 109 Miss. 700.

While the street must be used for public purposes, it is not necessary for the entire space to be kept in condition for travel.

Gulfport & Miss. Coast Traction Co. et al. v. Manuel et al., 123 Miss. 266, 85 So. 308; McComb City v. Hayman et al., 124 Miss. 525, 87 So. 11; City of Natchez v. Granfield, 124 So. 656; Macedon v. City of Corinth, 155 Miss. 588, 124 So. 795; Ill. Cent. Railroad Co. v. Bloodworth et al., 145 So. 332.

Currie & Currie, of Hattiesburg, for appellee.

By filing the plea of the general issue only, the appellants admitted, for the purpose of the trial, that the declaration stated a good joint cause of action against them, and that if the appellee proved what he had undertaken to prove he would be entitled to a verdict against both of them.

21 R. C. L., p. 120, p. 562; Brewer v. Strong's Executive, 10 Ala. 961, 44 Am. Dec. 514.

If Smith and the appellee had, either or both, been guilty of negligence which only proximately contributed to the collision and injury, it would not bar the appellee of the right of recovery, and would not entitle the appellants to a peremptory instruction.

Sec. 511, Miss. Code 1930; Sec. 512, Miss. Code 1930.

The existence of causal connection...

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