Spade v. Lynn & B.R.R.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtHOLMES
Citation172 Mass. 488,52 N.E. 747
Decision Date16 January 1899
PartiesSPADE v. LYNN & B.R.R.

172 Mass. 488
52 N.E. 747

SPADE
v.
LYNN & B.R.R.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

Jan. 16, 1899.


Exceptions from superior court, Suffolk county; Justin Dewey, Judge.

Action by Margaret C. Spade against the Lynn & Boston Railroad. There was a judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings exceptions. Exceptions sustained.


[172 Mass. 488]S.L. Whipple and W.R. Sears, for plaintiff.

C.K. Cobb, for defendant.


HOLMES, J.

This is an action for personal injuries, which already has been before the court. 168 Mass. 285, 47 N.E. 88. At the second trial the evidence was that the defendant's conductor, in removing a drunken man from a car, jostled another drunken man, who was standing in front of the plaintiff, and threw him upon her. The fall upon her seems to have been a trifling matter, taken by itself, but the fright caused by that and the rest of the occurrences in the car resulted in physical injury. The case comes up again upon exceptions.

The judge was asked to direct a verdict for the defendant. We find some difficulty in seeing upon what ground the jury were warranted in finding for the plaintiff. So far as appears, the conductor was acting rightly in putting the drunken man [172 Mass. 489]off the car. As against the plaintiff, he was doing one of the things which she had to contemplate as liable to happen, when she got into the car. We all know that, if people are standing in the passageway of a street car, you cannot remove a man forcibly through the passageway without more or less contact. If the fall upon the plaintiff was the necessary consequence of a lawful and reasonable act, then it was one of the risks which she assumed when she took her passage.

It is a question which deserves more discussion than it has received, whether a man is answerable for an injury inflicted upon an innocent stranger knowingly, or with sufficient notice of the danger, if the injury is an unavoidable incident of lawful self-protection. It might be said, and it has been held, when it is a question of paying damages, that a man cannot shift his misfortunes to his neighbor's shoulders. Gilbert v. Stone, Aleyn, 35, Style, 72; Scott v. Shepherd, 2 W.Bl. 892, 896; Cooley, Torts, p. 115. See McLeod v. Jones, 105 Mass. 403, 405;Miller v. Horton, 152 Mass. 540, 547, 26 N.E. 100;Pierce v. Steamship Co., 153 Mass. 87, 90, 26 N.E. 415; Whalley v. Railway Co., 13 Q.B.Div. 131. And compare the rule as to duress in contracts and conveyances. Fairbanks v. Snow, 145 Mass. 153, 155, 13 N.E. 596. On the other hand, the contrary has been intimated in a case of shooting in self-defense, the injury to the third person being treated on the footing of accident. Morris v. Platt, 32 Conn. 75, 84. See Bac. Max. Reg. 5, 6; Addison, Torts (6th Ed.) 380, 383. And the right to pull down a house when the destruction is necessary to stop a fire, as it usually is stated, looks the same way. See Taylor v. Inhabitants of Plymouth, 8 Metc. (Mass.) 462, 465; Print Works v. Lawrence, 23 N.J.Law, 590, 613. The alleged immunity for the necessary destruction of a building suggests that perhaps the question cannot be answered in general terms, and that one possible distinction may be found where the parties have a common interest, even though the act done in furtherance of it may cause more harm than good to the plaintiff. Perhaps it would be unsafe to

[52 N.E. 748]

find any countenance to such a distinction in decisions as to the rights of landowners or officials in diking against water when it appears as a...

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29 practice notes
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...a man's misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor's shoulders. Spade v. Lynn & Boston Ry. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 489, 52 N. E. 747, 43 L. R. A. 832, 70 Am. St. Rep. 298. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public cond......
  • Tesar v. Anderson, No. 2009AP1993.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • July 29, 2010
    ...R.R. Co., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99, 102 (1928) (Andrews, J., dissenting) (quoting Mr. Justice Holmes in Spade v. Lynn & Boston R.R. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 52 N.E. 747, 748 (1899)). ¶ 6 The element of duty has been problematic. In Osborne v. Montgomery, 203 Wis. 223, 231, 234 N.W. 372 (1931), ......
  • The Limitations of 'Sic Utere Tuo...': Planning by Private Law Devices
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...a man’s misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor’s shoulders. Spade v. Lynn & Boston R.R. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 489. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public condition is not enough to warrant achieving the desire......
  • Rodrigues v. State, No. 4833
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • July 20, 1970
    ...infliction of mental distress alone. Lynch v. Knight, 11 Eng.Rep. 854, 9 H.L.Cas. 577, 578 (1861); Spade v. Lynn & Boston R. R., 172 Mass. 488, 52 N.E. 747 The cases contain the broad statement that there is no duty to refrain from the negligent infliction of mental distress, Spade, supra; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...a man's misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor's shoulders. Spade v. Lynn & Boston Ry. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 489, 52 N. E. 747, 43 L. R. A. 832, 70 Am. St. Rep. 298. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public cond......
  • Tesar v. Anderson, No. 2009AP1993.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • July 29, 2010
    ...R.R. Co., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99, 102 (1928) (Andrews, J., dissenting) (quoting Mr. Justice Holmes in Spade v. Lynn & Boston R.R. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 52 N.E. 747, 748 (1899)). ¶ 6 The element of duty has been problematic. In Osborne v. Montgomery, 203 Wis. 223, 231, 234 N.W. 372 (1931), ......
  • Rodrigues v. State, No. 4833
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • July 20, 1970
    ...infliction of mental distress alone. Lynch v. Knight, 11 Eng.Rep. 854, 9 H.L.Cas. 577, 578 (1861); Spade v. Lynn & Boston R. R., 172 Mass. 488, 52 N.E. 747 The cases contain the broad statement that there is no duty to refrain from the negligent infliction of mental distress, Spade, supra; ......
  • Piper v. Ekern
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 18, 1923
    ...a man's misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor's shoulders. Spade v. Lynn & Boston Ry. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 489, 52 N. E. 747, 43 L. R. A. 832, 70 Am. St. Rep. 298. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public cond......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Limitations of 'Sic Utere Tuo...': Planning by Private Law Devices
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...a man’s misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor’s shoulders. Spade v. Lynn & Boston R.R. Co., 172 Mass. 488, 489. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public condition is not enough to warrant achieving the desire......

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