Ruff v. Georgia, S. & F. Ry. Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtWHITFIELD, J.
Citation64 So. 782,67 Fla. 224
Decision Date14 March 1914
PartiesRUFF v. GEORGIA S. & F. RY. CO.

64 So. 782

67 Fla. 224

RUFF
v.
GEORGIA S. & F. RY.
CO.

Florida Supreme Court

March 14, 1914


Error to Circuit Court, Columbia County; W. F. Horne, Judge.

Action by Theola Ruff against the Georgia Southern & Florida Railway Company, for personal injuries. Verdict for plaintiff, new trial granted, and plaintiff brings error. Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

In an action against a railroad company for damages for personal injuries sustained in the running of a train, under an allegation that the 'passenger train was, by and through the negligence and carelessness of the defendant in the running of said train, derailed and wrecked, whereby plaintiff was' injured, any competent testimony is admissible that is relevant to the alleged 'negligence and carelessness of the defendant in the running of said train,' whereby the train was 'derailed and wrecked,' including the condition and speed of the train and the condition of the roadbed and track at the time and place of the alleged injury.

Where liability is shown, the burden is upon the plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the weight of legal and competent evidence, the nature and extent of the injuries sustained, of the character substantially as alleged.

In an action for negligent injury, under an allegation that the plaintiff was injured in her person, and 'was thereby rendered incapable of performing her duties of school-teaching, which she has pursued with great success, * * * and for which she had been specially trained and educated,' and that 'by reason of such injuries * * * she did necessarily lay out divers sums of money in and about endeavoring to have herself cured of her said injuries,' the plaintiff could, by competent evidence, show personal injuries, loss of earning capacity as a school-teacher, and 'sums of money' paid 'in endeavoring to have herself cured of her said injuries.'

A motion for new trial upon the ground that the evidence is insufficient to prove the facts in issue is, at common law, to be determined by the trial court, and its ruling thereon is not reviewable by the appellate court, at least where there is any legal evidence to sustain all the essential elements of the finding; and an order granting a new trial, not being a final judgment, is not at common law subject to direct review by writ of error.

Any principle of the common law may be changed by statute when the Constitution is not thereby violated.

Pursuant to the statute, sections 1693 and 1694, General Statutes, it is the duty of the appellate court, in appropriate proceedings duly taken, not only to review questions of law, but to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the findings of fact in a cause; and if material error appears in such findings that probably causes substantial injustice, it is the duty of the court to correct the error in appropriate proceedings.

The granting or denial of a motion for new trial in a litigated cause necessarily involves judicial power and discretion, the essence of which, as distinguished from mere procedure, is by the Constitution vested in the courts, not in the Legislature.

The Legislature may lawfully prescribe rules of procedure which the courts will observe; but the Legislature has no power under the Constitution to regulate the judicial discretion that is vested in the courts.

Appellate courts exercise judicial power and discretion in passing upon the correctness of proceedings in trial courts; but such power and discretion is to be exercised for purposes of review to correct material errors that appear to do substantial injury or injustice to the complaining party, and not, except in correcting material errors, to regulate the exercise of reasonable discretion by the trial court, whose judicial acts are presumed to accord with law and with the substantial justice of the cause.

There are so many matters occurring in the course and progress of a judicial trial that, in the opinion of the judge who tried the case, may affect the merits and justice of the cause to the substantial injury of one of the parties, of necessity a large discretion should be accorded to the trial court in granting a new trial, to the end that the administration of justice may be facilitated; and the appellate court will not reverse an order granting a new trial, unless it clearly appears that a judicial discretion has been abused in its exercise, resulting in injustice, or that the law has been violated.

The exercise of the power to suggest a remittitur is not compulsory, and the trial court may grant a new trial where in his opinion the ends of justice require it.

On a writ of error taken under the statute to an order granting a new trial in a civil action at law, the only questions to be considered are those involved in the order granting a new trial.

A stronger showing is required to reverse an order allowing a new trial than to reverse one denying it.

Where a trial court erroneously grants a new trial in an action at law, the order may be reversed on writ of error duly taken and prosecuted under the statute; but in such cases it must clearly and affirmatively appear by the transcript of the record that in granting a new trial the trial court abused a sound judicial discretion, or violated some provision or settled principle of law, thereby manifestly doing substantial injustice and injury to the party who obtained the verdict.

Where the trial court grants a new trial containing several grounds, without stating any ground upon which the ruling was based, the order will be affirmed if any ground of the motion is sufficient to authorize the granting of the new trial. And it must be assumed that the court based the order on the grounds that warrant it.

Where a new trial is granted, and there is such a conflict in the evidence that this court cannot say the trial judge abused his discretion in granting such new trial, his ruling will not be disturbed.

Where the evidence on a material issue in a cause is conflicting, and it does not so preponderate in favor of the verdict as to show an abuse of discretion or the violation of any provision or settled principle of law in granting a new trial, the action of the trial court will not be disturbed on writ of error.

COUNSEL [64 So. 783] [67 Fla. 227] A. H. & Roswell King, of Jacksonville, and Cone & Chapman, of Lake City, for plaintiff in error.

J. B. Hodges, of Lake City, and J. E. Futch, of Starke, for defendant in error.

OPINION

WHITFIELD, J.

This writ of error was taken under section 1695 of the General Statutes of 1906 to an order granting a new trial in an action brought in a Florida court by Theola Ruff, to recover damages for personal injuries alleged to have been sustained by her while a passenger on the railway company's train in the state of Georgia. The defendant railway company operates a portion of its line and does business in Florida.

The declaration originally contained two counts. A demurrer was overruled as to the first count, and sustained as to the second count. After filing an amended second count, the plaintiff 'dismissed' both the original and the amended second count. It is assumed here, as apparently was done in the trial court, that the laws of Georgia under which the alleged cause of action accrued are similar to the laws of this state on the subject. Trial was had on the first count, and a plea of not guilty. The issues involved were the negligence [67 Fla. 228] alleged, and also the nature and extent of the alleged injury and proper compensation therefor. The cause of action accrued in Georgia and the claim asserted in the Florida court is for a compensatory, not a penal, liability. The declaration alleges 'that on or about the 26th day of July, 1912, plaintiff boarded and took passage as a passenger on one of the passenger trains of defendant for transportation as a passenger in due course, and as such passenger she was transported in a passenger coach in said train * * * to or near the station of Pinehurst, Ga., when * * * said passenger train was, by and through the negligence and carelessness of the defendant in the running of said train, derailed and wrecked, whereby plaintiff was hurled and thrown about in a coach in said train with great force and violence, whereby defendant did then and there greatly wound, bruise, and injure plaintiff, to wit, in and [64 So. 784] throughout her body, and in and about her abdomen and back, and her kidneys were displaced, and her rib or ribs were fractured, and did expose and subject said plaintiff to great shame and mortification, by reason whereof plaintiff has suffered great pain and anguish between said date and the date thereof, and is still suffering the same; and by reason of such wounding, hurting, bruising, and injuring, plaintiff then and there became sick, sore, disordered, and has suffered great pain and anguish, and will continue so to suffer for a long time, to wit, permanently; and plaintiff alleges that she was thereby rendered incapable of performing her business and avocation, to wit, the business of school-teaching, which she has pursued with great success for many years, and for which she had been specially...

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60 practice notes
  • Mcdaniel v. Mcelvy
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 3, 1926
    ...observe, so long as such rules do not attempt to regulate the judicial discretion which is vested in the courts. Ruff v. G. S. & F. Ry., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782. To have one's controversies determined by existing rules of evidence is not a vested right, and the Legislature, within constitut......
  • Dutton Phosphate Co. v. Priest
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 21, 1914
    ...L.Ed. 327, 38 L. R. A. (N. S.) 44; In re Opinion of the Justices, 209 Mass. 607, 96 N.E. 308; Ruff v. Georgia Southern & Florida Ry. Co., 64 So. 782, decided at this term. The common-law rule making it unlawful and a trespass for live stock belonging to one person to go upon the uninclosed ......
  • Beckwith v. Bailey
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 14, 1935
    ...Co. v. Crystal River Lumber Co., 63 Fla. 131, 58 So. 786; Beverly v. Hardaway, 66 Fla. 177, 63 So. 702; Ruff v. Georgia, S. & F. R. Co., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782; Gulf Refining Co. v. Howard, 82 Fla. 27, 89 So. 349; Carney v. Stringfellow, 73 Fla. 700, 74 So. 866; Cheyney v. Roberts, 77 Fla.......
  • Kight v. American Eagle Fire Ins. Co. of New York
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 11, 1938
    ...affirmed when authorized by any ground of the motion. See Beverly v. Hardaway, 66 Fla. 177, 63 So. 702; Ruff v. Georgia, S. & F. R. Co., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782; Aberson v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 68 Fla. 196, 67 So. 44; Anthony Farms Co. v. Seaboard Air Line Ry., 69 Fla. 188, 67 So. 91......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
60 cases
  • Dutton Phosphate Co. v. Priest
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 21, 1914
    ...327, 38 L. R. A. (N. S.) 44; In re Opinion of the Justices, 209 Mass. 607, 96 N.E. 308; Ruff v. Georgia Southern & Florida Ry. Co., 64 So. 782, decided at this term. The common-law rule making it unlawful and a trespass for live stock belonging to one person to go upon the uninclosed pr......
  • Kight v. American Eagle Fire Ins. Co. of New York
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 11, 1938
    ...when authorized by any ground of the motion. See Beverly v. Hardaway, 66 Fla. 177, 63 So. 702; Ruff v. Georgia, S. & F. R. Co., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782; Aberson v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 68 Fla. 196, 67 So. 44; Anthony Farms Co. v. Seaboard Air Line Ry., 69 Fla. 188, 67 So. 913; Mi......
  • Beckwith v. Bailey
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 14, 1935
    ...v. Crystal River Lumber Co., 63 Fla. 131, 58 So. 786; Beverly v. Hardaway, 66 Fla. 177, 63 So. 702; Ruff v. Georgia, S. & F. R. Co., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782; Gulf Refining Co. v. Howard, 82 Fla. 27, 89 So. 349; Carney v. Stringfellow, 73 Fla. 700, 74 So. 866; Cheyney v. Roberts, 77 Fla.......
  • Mcdaniel v. Mcelvy
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 3, 1926
    ...so long as such rules do not attempt to regulate the judicial discretion which is vested in the courts. Ruff v. G. S. & F. Ry., 67 Fla. 224, 64 So. 782. To have one's controversies determined by existing rules of evidence is not a vested right, and the Legislature, within constitutional......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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