Republic Iron & Steel Co. v. Self, 26

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtTHOMAS, J.
Citation68 So. 328,192 Ala. 403
Decision Date22 April 1915
Docket Number26

68 So. 328

192 Ala. 403


No. 26

Supreme Court of Alabama

April 22, 1915

Appeal from City Court of Birmingham; John H. Miller, Judge.

Action by Burtie Self, by next friend, against the Republic Iron & Steel Company. From a judgment for plaintiff, defendant appeals. Reversed and remanded.

Transferred from the Court of Appeals under section 6, Acts 1911, p. 450.

Percy, Benners & Burr, of Birmingham, for appellant.

Harsh & Beddow and A. Leo Oberdorfer, all of Birmingham, for appellee.


The cause was submitted on count 1 which claimed that:

"While plaintiff was in said commissary or store, in or about transacting business with the defendant, which business was conducted by the defendant in said commissary or store one of the defendant's servants or agents, whose duty it was, on behalf of the defendant, to wait upon those having business with the defendant in said commissary or store wrongfully used abusive or insulting language towards plaintiff while both were in said commissary or store and plaintiff was engaged in or about said business with said defendant in said commissary or store, and as a proximate consequence thereof plaintiff was greatly humiliated suffered great mental and physical pain and anguish, was caused to prematurely leave said commissary or store, and was put to great trouble, annoyance, vexation, inconvenience, and expense in or about transacting said business, for all of which plaintiff claims damages, and plaintiff also claims punitive damages."

This is not a suit for slander. If it were such, no recovery could be had under this evidence, for it is well settled in this jurisdiction that a corporation will not be liable for any slander uttered by an officer, even though he be acting honestly for the benefit of the company and within the scope of his duties, unless it be proved that the corporation expressly ordered and directed that officer to say those very words; for a slander is the voluntary and tortious act of the speaker. McIntyre's Case, 179 Ala. 404, 60 So. 848; Singer Mfg. Co. v. Taylor, 150 Ala. 574, 43 So. 210, 9 L.R.A. (N.S.) 929, 124 Am.St.Rep. 90.

The suit is for damages for using abusive and insulting language to plaintiff while in defendant's commissary store. The questions and answers as to the tone and manner in which the words were spoken were competent. Whether or not words spoken by one person to another are to be regarded as abusive and offensive or insulting, or whether an act amounted to an assault or otherwise, depends largely upon the manner or the tone of voice of the speaker. Barlow et al. v. Hamilton, 151 Ala. 634, 44 So. 657; Hill v. State, 146 Ala. 51, 41 So. 621; Riley v. State, 132 Ala. 13, 31 So. 731; A.G.S.R.R. Co. v. Pouncey, 7 Ala.App. 548, 554, 61 So. 601.

The undisputed evidence and the charges requested by defendant, and refused by the court, present for decision the questions: (1) Whether there was a duty upon the keeper of [68 So. 329] a commissary to protect appellant from such indignity while in the store; (2) whether abusive words unaccompanied by acts that amount to an assault constitute a cause of action against the owner of the store.

The rule of--let the principal answer--respondeat superior applies only when what is complained of was done in the course of the employment. The principal is responsible, not because the servant acted in his name, or under color of his employment, but because the servant was actually engaged in and about his business and carrying out his purposes. He is, then, responsible, because the thing complained of, though done through the agency of another, was done by himself; and it matters not in such cases whether the injury with which it is sought to charge him was the result of negligence, or of unskillful or wrong conduct, for he must choose fit agents for the transaction of his business. But if his business is done, or is taking care of itself, and his servant, not being engaged in it, nor concerned about it, but impelled by motives that are wholly personal...

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51 cases
  • National Park Bank of New York v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 8 Div. 838
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • February 1, 1917
    ...individual malice, motive, or purpose of the perpetrator, having no relation to the business of the master (Republic I. & S. Co. v. Self, 192 Ala. 403, 68 So. 328, L.R.A. 1915F, 516; Martin v. State, 89 Ala. 115, 8 So. 23, supra; 18 Am.St.Rep. 91, and note; Spencer v. State, 77 Ga. 155, 3 S......
  • Lyons v. Zale Jewelry Co., 42382
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • February 18, 1963
    ...cited. See also Kramer v. Ricksmeier (1913), 159 Iowa 48, 139 N.W. 1091, 45 L.R.A.,N.S., 928; Republic Iron & Steel Co. v. Self (1915), 192 Ala. 403, 68 So. 328, L.R.A.1915F, 516; Brooker v. Silverthorne (1918), 111 S.C. 553, 99 S.E. 350, 5 A.L.R. 1283; Johnson v. Sampson (1926), 167 Minn. ......
  • Ashworth v. Alabama Great Southern R. Co., 6 Div. 941.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • February 7, 1924
    ...firing the fatal shot resulting in the death of Thomas. Buttrey v. Wilhite, 208 Ala. 573, 574, 94 So. 585; Republic I. & S. Co. v. Self, 192 Ala. 403, 68 So. 328, L. R. A. 1915F, 516; Willingham v. Birmingham Ry., L. & P. Co., 203 Ala. 351, 83 So. 95. See, also, 40 L. R. A. (N. S.) pp. 1005......
  • Blumenfeld v. Meyerschmid Grocer Company
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 5, 1921
    ...S.W. 622; Keen v. St. Louis, etc., R. R. Co., 129 Mo.App. 301; Winn v. K. C. Belt Ry. Co., 245 Mo. 406; Republic Iron & Steel Co. v. Self, 68 So. 328. A master is liable for the negligent, willful or malicious acts of his servant while acting within the scope of the employment, and mere dep......
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