Standard Red Cedar Chest Co. Inc v. Monroe

Decision Date12 June 1919
Citation99 S.E. 589
CourtVirginia Supreme Court

Error to Circuit Court of City of Lynchburg.

Motion by Johnson C. Monroe, by, etc., against the Standard Red Cedar Chest Company, Incorporated. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Affirmed.

Harrison & Long, of Lynchburg, for plaintiff in error.

Duncan Drysdale and L. Bradford Waters, both of Lynchburg, for defendant in error.

WHITTLE, P. The defendant in error, an infant under the age of 14 years, to wit, of the age of 12 years, suing by his next friend, brought this motion against the plaintiff in error, the owner and operator of a factory for the manufacture of cedar chests, to recover damages for personal injuries suffered by him as an employe in defendant's factory.

The motion was brought under an act of the General Assembly approved March 27, 1914, which, so far as pertinent to this case, provides as follows:

"Section 1. That * * * no child under the age of fourteen years shall be employed, permitted or suffered to work in any factory, workshop, mine, mercantile establishment, laundry, bakery, brick or lumber yard. * * * "

"Sec. 6. Any owner, superintendent, overseer, foreman or manager, who shall knowingly employ or permit any child to be employed contrary to the provisions of this act, in any factory, workshop, mercantile establishment or laundry, with which he is connected, or any parent or guardian, who allows any such employment of his child or ward, shall upon conviction of such offense be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars. * * *

"Any employment contrary to the provisions of this act shall be prima facie evidence of guilt, both as to the employer and the parent or guardian of the child so employed."

The act further provides that the circuit or corporation court, upon petition, etc., for good cause shown, may release a child between the ages of 12 and 14 years from the operation thereof. Acts 1914, p. 671.

The notice alleged the employment of the plaintiff by the defendant contrary to the provisions of the act; that the machinery in the factory was driven by steam power and electricity and was dangerous; that plaintiff was put to work by his employer at a dangerous machine, known as a "planer, " equipped with steel and iron wheels, cogs, pinions, circular knives, and other dangerous agencies that revolved at a rapid rateof speed; that by reason of plaintiff's tender years and lack of skill and experience he was incapable of understanding and did not understand the dangers incident to working at and about the planer; that the defendant knew the dangerous character of the machine, but neglected to warn or instruct the plaintiff with respect to it; that after an employment of eight days' duration, during the temporary absence of the workman in charge of the planer, under whom plaintiff was working, the machine (not being in good order) became clogged or jammed, and the plaintiff, in his effort to remove the obstruction, had his hand caught in the machine, and all the fingers and part of the thumb of his right hand were cut off.

Issue was joined by the defendant on this notice, and, upon conflicting evidence, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and assessed his damages at $1,250. The case is before us upon a writ of error to a judgment sustaining that verdict.

Section 2900 of the Code provides that—

"Any person injured by the violation of any statute may recover from the offender such damages as he may sustain by reason of the violation, although a penalty or forfeiture for such violation be thereby imposed, unless the same be expressly mentioned to be in lieu of such damages. And the damages so sustained together with any penalty or forfeiture imposed for the violation of the statute, may be recovered in a single action of trespass on the case upon proper counts when the same person is entitled to both damages and penalty: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall affect the existing statutes of limitation applicable to the foregoing causes of action respectively."

The evidence shows that plaintiff was put to work by the defendant at the planer, his duty being to remove the boards from the planer and to shake them loose when they became clogged, and for that purpose his correct position was at the rear of the machine, while that of the workman in charge was at the front, where the boards were fed to the machine. At the time of the accident the head workman had absented himself temporarily from his post of duty, leaving the machine, running, and during his absence it became clogged. The plaintiff endeavored to dislodge the boards in the usual way, but was unable to do so; and in the dilemma in which he was placed by the absence of the workman he went to the front of the machine, and in his effort to remove the boards his hand was caught in the machinery, and he received the injuries of which he complains.

It thus appears that plaintiff was about the master's business and in the line of his employment when injured, if not within the literal scope of it. To shield him from exposure to such dangers incident to his youth and inexperience was the obvious purpose of the act in absolutely prohibiting his employ ment and making it unlawful. From the evidence adduced (certainly from the viewpoint of a demurrer by the defendant to the evidence) the jury were warranted in finding that at the time of his employment the plaintiff was under the age of 14 years, and that the defendant knowingly employed or permitted him to be employed contrary to the express terms of the act. In addition to the controlling influence of the demurrer to the evidence rule, the act declares that any employment contrary to its provisions shall be prima facie evidence of the guilt of the employer. The question whether or not the employment of a child by the owner to work in his factory, with knowledge of the fact that he is within the prohibited age, is to be regarded per se as the proximate...

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25 cases
  • Howarth v. Rockingham Pub. Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Virginia
    • October 1, 1998
    ...was employed at company's factory when below the age of sixteen, in violation of child labor law); Standard Red Cedar Chest Co., Inc., v. Monroe, 125 Va. 442, 99 S.E. 589 (Va.1919) (child plaintiff may recover for injuries incurred when his hand was caught in machine, employer put child to ......
  • Harper v. Cook, 10626
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1954 recovery against it for the injuries complained of.' See Nolde Bros. v. Chalkley, 184 Va. 553, 35 S.E.2d 827; Standard Red Cedar Chest Co. v. Monroe, 125 Va. 442, 99 S.E. 589; Miller Mfg. Co. v. Loving, 125 Va. 255, 99 S.E. In Armstrong's Adm'r v. Sumne & Ratterman Co., 211 Ky. 750, 278 ......
  • Gifford v. Haynes Auto. Co.
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • June 28, 1922 a cotton mill); Sharon v. Winnebago, etc., Co., 141 Wis. 185, 124 N. W. 299 (a boy under 16 operating a saw); Standard, etc., Co. v. Monroe, 125 Va. 442, 99 S. E. 589 (a boy of 12 employed to work on a planer); Strafford v. Republic Iron Co., 238 Ill. 371, 87 N. E. 357, 20 L. R. A. (N. S......
  • Gifford v. Haynes Automobile Company
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • June 28, 1922
    ... ... 185, 124 N.W. 299 (a boy under sixteen operating a saw); ... Standard, etc., Co. v. Monroe (1919), 125 ... Va. 442, 99 S.E. 589 (a boy of ... ...
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