Seidenberg v. Eastern Massachusetts St. Ry. Co.

Decision Date27 March 1929
Citation266 Mass. 540,165 N.E. 658
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court


Report from District Court of Chelsea; A. P. Stone, J. W. Morton, and N. N. Jones, Judges.

Action by Dora Seidenberg against the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Company. Heard on report. Order of Appellate Division dismissing report reversed and judgment ordered entered for defendant.J. H. Blanchard, of Boston, for plaintiff.

L. R. Chamberlin and R. J. Cook, both of Boston, for defendant.


This is an action of tort to recover compensation for injuries sustained by the plaintiff while a passenger upon a trolley car operated by the defendant. One count of the two in the declaration alleged that, after entering the car and before she had opportunity to reach a seat, the car was started with a ‘sudden jerk and unexpected and unanticipated quick movement’; the other count alleged that there was an accumulation of snow and ice on the floor of the car. The testimony of the plaintiff was that ‘I had stepped out of the vestibule and the accident happened in the body of the car. The car gave a terrible jerk (describing by gesticulation, witness threw up her hands over her head backward, then said she staggered, hands being thrown forward) and I fell down. It was slippery in the car, it was wet in the car and the car gave a terrible jerk and I fell down. If it wouldn't be so slippery, I probably wouldn't fall down but it was so slippery I fell down * * * the floor was very wet. * * * At the time of the accident, I was a well woman, strong and robust, hearing and eye-sight all right. * * * I had no bundles in my hands at all.’ Another witness testified that the condition of the floor of the car was ‘very sloppily wet’ and that, the plaintiff having entered the car, it ‘started jerkily and she staggered like that (The witness was then seated in a chair. She gesticulated by throwing her hands up and quickly swaying in her chair) and slipped right on her back. Fell right down on the floor.’ There was evidence that it was not snowing at the time but had snowed before and there was slush on the ground.

There was no obligation on the part of the defendant to keep the car still until the passenger had reached a seat within the car. There was no negligence in starting the car when the passenger was fully and fairly within it. Sauvan v. Citizens' Electric Street Railway, 197 Mass. 176, 83 N. E. 405,Benoit v. Boston & N. St. R. Co., 216 Mass. 320, 103 N. E. 830. There is no room for doubt on the evidence that the plaintiff was in this position.

The wetness of the floor of the car as described constituted no evidence of negligence on the part of the servants of the defendant. That point is covered by numerous decisions. Labrie v. Donham, 243 Mass. 584, 138 N. E. 3;O'Brien v. Boston Elevated Railway, 250 Mass. 192, 145 N. E. 259;O'Neill v. Boston Elevated Railway, 248 Mass. 362, 142 N. E. 904;Mascary v. Boston Elevated Railway, 258 Mass. 524, 155 N. E. 637;Bornstein v. R. H. White Co., 259 Mass. 34, 155 N. E. 661.

It is too well settled for discussion or for repetition of the reasons that mere jerks and jolts in starting an electric car, however vituperatively described, do not constitute negligence. Work v. Boston Elevated Railway, 207 Mass. 447, 93 N. E. 693, and cases there reviewed; Saunders v. Boston Elevated Railway, 216 Mass. 355, 103 N. E. 779;Anderson v. Boston Elevated Railway, 220 Mass. 28, 107 N. E. 376;Gollis v. Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway, 254 Mass. 157, 149 N. E. 607;Binder v. Boston Elevated Railway (Mass.) 164 N. E....

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  • Cantara v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Authority
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • February 21, 1975
    ...252 Mass. 418, 421, 147 N.E. 824 (1925). Binder v. Boston Elev. Ry., 265 Mass. 589, 164 N.E. 441 (1929). Seidenberg v. Eastern Mass. St. Ry., 266 Mass. 540, 165 N.E. 658 (1929). Evidence of physical facts showing the force of the jerk or jolt must be presented. Sullivan v. Boston Elev. Ry.,......
  • Desautels v. Massachusetts Northeastern St. Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • September 10, 1931
    ...way. Foley v. Boston & Maine Railroad, 193 Mass. 332, 335, 79 N. E. 765,7 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1076;Seidenberg v. Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway, 266 Mass. 540, 542, 165 N. E. 658, and cases cited. This evidence falls short of that in Nolan v. Newton Street Railway, 206 Mass. 384, 388, 38......
  • O'Brien v. Bernoi
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • May 25, 1937
    ...v. Mutrie, 247 Mass. 316, 318, 142 N.E. 45;Marcienowski v. Sanders, 252 Mass. 65, 67, 147 N.E. 275;Seidenberg v. Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway Co., 266 Mass. 540, 542, 165 N.E. 658;Desautels v. Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway Co., 276 Mass. 381, 384, 177 N.E. 578;Phinney v.......
  • Wade v. North Coast Transp. Co.
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1931
    ... ... Boston Elevated Railway Co., 207 Mass. 447, ... 93 N.E. 693; Convery v. Eastern Mass. Street Railway ... Co., 252 Mass. 418, 147 N.E. 824; Warren v. Boston ... not evidence of excessive speed. In Seidenberg v. Eastern ... Massachusetts St. Ry. Co., 266 Mass. 540, 165 N.E. 658, ... 659, it is ... ...
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