Ross v. Cooper

Decision Date19 December 1916
Citation164 N.W. 679,38 N.D. 173
CourtNorth Dakota Supreme Court

Rehearing denied October 5, 1917.

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of Traill County Pollock, J.

Reversed and ordered dismissed.

Judgment reversed.

P. G Swenson and Bangs, Hamilton, & Bangs, for appellant.

Statements made with a view to the apprehension of the offender do not form part of the res gestoe. 34 Cyc. 1645; Westcott v Waterloo, C. F. & N. R. Co., 173 Iowa 355, 155 N.W. 255; Puls v. Grand Lodge, A. O. U. W. 13 N.D. 559, 102 N.W. 165.

The res gestoe rule, together with examples or illustrations of its application, may be found well stated in the following cases. The rule is that statements made by a party must be contemporaneous with the principal act to which they relate, and there must not be such a lapse of time as to give opportunity to premeditate and to fabricate a story. Puls v. Grand Lodge, A. O. U. W. supra; Louisville, N. A. & C. R. Co. v. Buck, 116 Ind. 566, 2 L.R.A. 520, 9 Am. St. Rep. 883, 19 N.E. 453; Britton v. Washington Water Power Co., 59 Wash. 440, 33 L.R.A. (N.S.) 109, 140 Am. St. Rep. 858, 110 P. 20; State v. Deuble, 74 Iowa 509, 38 N.W. 383; Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Haislup, 39 Ind.App. 394, 79 N.E. 1035; Waldele v. New York C. & H. R. R. Co., 95 N.Y. 274, 47 Am. Rep. 41; Hill v. AEtna L. Ins. Co., 150 N.C. 1, 63 S.E. 124.

The statements must not be mere recitals of past events, and the court will reject them where there has been such a lapse of time as to afford opportunity to premeditate or to fabricate a story that will tend to uphold the claim. Westcott v. Waterloo, C. F. & N. R. Co., 173 Iowa 355, 155 N.W. 255.

Dying declarations cannot be used or offered in a civil action. Barfield v. Britt, 47 N. C. (2 Jones, L.) 41, 62 Am. Dec. 190; 1 Phillipps, Ev. Cowen & Hill's notes, 610; 1 Greenl. Ev. § 156, and cases cited; Jackson ex dem. Coe & Kniffen, 2 Johns. 31, 3 Am. Dec. 390; Marshall v. Chicago G. E. R. Co., 48 Ill. 475, 95 Am. Dec. 561; Wilson v. Boerem, 15 Johns. 286; Wooten v. Wilkins, 39 Ga. 223, 99 Am. Dec. 456; Daily v. New York & N. H. R. Co., 32 Conn. 356, 87 Am. Dec. 176; Thayer v. Lombard, 165 Mass. 174, 52 Am. St. Rep. 507, 42 N.E. 563; People v. Hodgdon, 55 Cal. 76, 36 Am. Rep. 30; People v. Stison, 140 Mich. 216, 112 Am. St. Rep. 397, 103 N.W. 542, 6 Ann. Cas. 69; State v. Meyer, 64 N.J.L. 382, 45 A. 779; Thurston v. Fritz, 91 Kan. 468, 50 L.R.A. (N.S. ) 1167, 138 P. 625; Worthington v. State, 92 Md. 222, 56 L.R.A. 360, 84 Am. St. Rep. 506, 48 A. 355.

The defendant in this case was in no manner responsible for or connected with the act of the killing of plaintiff's husband. There was no relation of master and servant existing between the person who did the act and this defendant, and the court seriously erred in admitting evidence on such feature of the case. Stephenson v. Southern P. Co., 93 Cal. 558, 15 L.R.A. 475, 27 Am. St. Rep. 223, 29 P. 234; Everingham v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 148 Iowa 662, 127 N.W. 1009, Ann. Cas. 1912C, 848; Haehl v. Wabash R. Co., 119 Mo. 325, 24 S.W. 737; Firemen's Fund Ins. Co. v. Schreiber, 150 Wis. 42, 45 L.R.A. (N.S.) 314, 135 N.W. 507, Ann. Cas. 1913E, 823; Kincade v. Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co., 107 Iowa 682, 78 N.W. 698, 6 Am. Neg. Rep. 64; Galehouse v. Minneapolis, St. P. & S. Ste. M. R. Co., 22 N.D. 624, 47 L.R.A. (N.S.) 965, 135 N.W. 189.

Where a master is sought to be held liable in damages for the wrongful act of his servant, this relationship must first be clearly established, and then it must also clearly appear that the servant was acting within the scope of his employment, and not acting for himself individually, and outside and independent of his employment. Dolan v. Hubinger, 109 Iowa 408, 80 N.W. 514, 6 Am. Neg. Rep. 506; Kincade v. Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co., 107 Iowa 682, 78 N.W. 698, 6 Am. Neg. Rep. 64; Golden v. Newbrand, 52 Iowa 59, 35 Am. Rep. 257, 2 N.W. 537; Porter v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 41 Iowa 358; Everingham v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 148 Iowa 662, 127 N.W. 1009, Ann. Cas. 1912C, 848; Holler v. Ross, 68 N.J.L. 324, 59 L.R.A. 943, 96 Am. St. Rep. 546, 53 A. 472.

The act of Cooper (McLain) was clearly wilful; it was as wrongful as it was wilful; it could not be characterized as less than malicious, and it was inspired by a feeling of personal resentment to punish Ross, and these facts and conditions completely take his act out of the category of acts which would impose a liability upon the defendant. Ducre v. Sparrow-Kroll Lumber Co., 168 Mich. 49, 47 L.R.A. (N.S.) 959, 133 N.W. 938, 2 N. C. C. A. 596.

"A master is responsible for the negligent and wilful tort of his servant only when committed in the sphere of the servant's duty, and while acting in the master's behalf." Firemen's Fund Ins. Co. v. Schreiber, 150 Wis. 42, 45 L.R.A. (N.S.) 314, 135 N.W. 507, Ann. Cas. 1913E, 823; Smith v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 95 Ky. 1, 22 L.R.A. 72, 23 S.W. 652; Curtis v. Dinneen, 4 Dak. 245, 30 N.W. 148; Waller v. Great Northern R. Co., 22 S.D. 256, 18 L.R.A. (N.S.) 297, 117 N.W. 140; Morier v. St. Paul, M. & M. R. Co., 31 Minn. 351, 47 Am. Rep. 793, 17 N.W. 952; Lovejoy v. Campbell, 16 S.D. 231, 92 N.W. 24.

"Where the deviation from duty is very marked and unusual, the court may determine that the servant was not on the master's business at all, but on his own." Rounds v. Delaware, L. & W. R. Co., 64 N.Y. 129, 21 Am. Rep. 597, 8 Am. Neg. Cas. 536; Little Miami R. Co. v. Wetmore, 19 Ohio St. 110, 2 Am. Rep. 373; Howe v. Newmarch, 12 Allen, 49; Brennan v. Merchant & Co., 205 Pa. 258, 54 A. 891, 15 Am. Neg. Rep. 672; Kincade v. Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co., 107 Iowa 682, 78 N.W. 698, 6 Am. Neg. Rep. 64; Farber v. Missouri P. R. Co., 116 Mo. 81, 20 L.R.A. 350, 22 S.W. 631, 8 Am. Neg. Cas. 475; Roberts v. Southern R. Co., 143 N.C. 176, 8 L.R.A. (N.S.) 798, 55 S.E. 509, 10 Ann. Cas. 375.

Chas. A. Lyche, for respondent.

"When a person receives a sudden injury, it is natural for him, if in the possession of his faculties, to state at once how it happened. Metaphorically, it may be said the act speaks through him and discloses its character." Murray v. Boston & M. R. Co., 72 N.H. 37, 61 L.R.A. 495, 101 Am. St. Rep. 660, 54 A. 289.

"If it is so connected with the transaction as a whole that the utterance, in the opinion of the court, may be regarded as an expression of feeling forced instinctively from the declarant by pressure of the circumstances under which it is made, rather than be deemed the narrative result of thought, it is evidence of what it asserts even though it constitutes part of no particular fact in the res gestoe." 16 Cyc. 1248; Herren v. People, 28 Colo. 23, 62 P. 833; T. & H. Pueblo Bldg. Co. v. Klein, 5 Colo.App. 348, 38 P. 608; State v. Hunter, 131 Minn. 252, L.R.A.1916C, 566, 154 N.W. 1083; 16 Cyc. 1249, and cases cited.

"No precise rule can be formulated, and each case stands upon its own footing." The element of time, therefore, has no controlling effect. 16 Cyc. 1250-1252, 1254, and cases cited; Puls v. Grand Lodge, A. O. U. W. 13 N.D. 559, 102 N.W. 165; Bessierre v. Alabama City, G. & A. R. Co., 179 Ala. 317, 60 So. 82; Andrews v. United States Casualty Co., 154 Wis. 82, 142 N.W. 487; Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Owens, 164 Ky. 557, 175 S.W. 1039; Grant v. Kansas City Southern R. Co., 172 Mo.App. 334, 157 S.W. 1016; Davis v. State, 70 Tex. Crim. Rep. 37, 155 S.W. 546.

A declaration by a person made more than two minutes after the shooting and while he was excited and seeking to get away, to the effect that he had been robbed and shot, was held admissible as a part of the res gestoe. Wilson v. State, 70 Tex. Crim. Rep. 627, 158 S.W. 512; Hedlund v. Minneapolis Street R. Co., 120 Minn. 319, 139 N.W. 603; 16 Cyc. 1255; International & G. N. R. Co. v. Smith, Tex. , 14 S.W. 642, 6 Am. Neg. Cas. 585; McCambridge v. Chicago, 178 Ill.App. 513; Middleton v. Cedar Falls, 173 Iowa 619, 153 N.W. 1040; Smith v. Stoner, 243 Pa. 57, 89 A. 795; Murray v. Boston & M. R. Co., 72 N.H. 32, 61 L.R.A. 495, 101 Am. St. Rep. 660, 54 A. 289; Fulcher v. State, 28 Tex.App. 465, 13 S.W. 750.

"A condition of severe bodily injury, unmitigated by medical or other attendance, makes it provable that a statement made while this condition continues is spontaneous, even if made during the effort to secure such help." 16 Cyc. 1255, and cases cited; Ohio & M. R. Co. v. Stein, 19 L.R.A. 733, and note, 133 Ind. 243, 31 N.E. 180, 32 N.E. 831; Puls v. Grand Lodge, A. O. U. W. 13 N.D. 559, 102 N.W. 165; 3 Wigmore, Ev. P 1747, pp. 2250, 2252, and cases cited; Alsever v. Minneapolis & St. L. R. Co., 115 Iowa 338, 56 L.R.A. 748, 88 N.W. 841; Gant v. State, 73 Tex. Crim. Rep. 279, 165 S.W. 142; Travellers' Ins. Co. v. Mosley, 8 Wall. 397, 19 L.Ed. 437.

The tendency of recent adjudications is to extend, rather than to narrow, the scope of the doctrine. When sickness is the subject of inquiry, the sickness is the principal fact. The res gestoe are the declarations tending to show the reality of its existence and its extent and character. Rightly guarded in its practical application, there is no principle in the law of evidence more safe in its results. 11 Enc. Ev 330; Little Rock, M. R. & T. R. Co. v. Leverett, 48 Ark. 333, 3 Am. St. Rep. 230, 3 S.W. 50; Washington & G. R. Co. v. McLane, 11 App. D. C. 220; Southern R. Co. v. Brown, 126 Ga. 1, 54 S.E. 911; Fish v. Illinois C. R. Co., 96 Iowa 702, 65 N.W. 995; Alsever v. Minneapolis & St. L. R. Co., 115 Iowa 338, 56 L.R.A. 748, 88 N.W. 841; Keyes v. Cedar Falls, 107 Iowa 509, 78 N.W. 24; Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Shaw, 21 Ky. L. Rep. 1041, 53 S.W. 1048; State v. Robinson, 52 La.Ann. 541, 27 So. 129, 13 Am. Crim. Rep. 357...

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