Stone v. Farmington Aviation Corp.

Decision Date10 July 1950
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 41763,41763,1
Citation232 S.W.2d 495,360 Mo. 1015
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Robert A. McIlrath, Flat River, Tyree C. Derrick, St. Louis, for appellant Karl E. Holderle, Jr., St. Louis, of counsel.

Dearing & Matthes, Will B. Dearing, Hillsboro, for Farmington Aviation Corporation.

CONKLING, Presiding Judge.

William H. Stone, plaintiff below and appellant here (hereinafter called plaintiff), sued Farmington Aviation Corporation, defendant below and also appellant here (hereinafter called defendant), for $15,000 damages for personal injuries. The jury's verdict for plaintiff awarded damages of $1,000.00. Plaintiff's motion for new trial contended his verdict was inadequate. The trial court overruled that motion and plaintiff appealed. In this court, contending his verdict was inadequate, plaintiff asks the remand of the case for retrial upon the sole issue of the amount of damages. Defendant also filed an after trial motion asking the court to enter a judgment for defendant in accordance with its motion for a directed verdict offered at the close of all the evidence. The trial court also overruled defendant's motion. Defendant also appealed and here contends the record evidence is insufficient to support any verdict for plaintiff. The two appeals have been consolidated.

The injuries sued for resulted from the crash of an airplane rented by plaintiff from defendant and which plaintiff was then operating upon his honeymoon to the Lake of the Ozarks. The crash occurred when the plane struck electric power line wires. The plane crashed on the Grand Glaize airfield near Camdenton, Missouri. We first consider defendant's contention that the evidence before us here is not sufficient to support a verdict for plaintiff in any amount whatever. This requires our consideration of the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff.

The petition alleged that plaintiff rented the Piper Cub Model J-5A plane on a flight hour basis; that defendant warranted the plane 'was suitable and in proper condition for use'; that the belt on the rear seat 'broke and that as a direct and proximate result thereof', his wife was thrown against plaintiff's seat, 'and thus and thereby injured him;' that the belt attached to the rear seat (in which his wife was riding) 'was old and rotten and defective and not suitable for the purpose for which it was intended'; that as he was attempting to land at the Grand Glaize airport, 'said airplane was caught in a down draft causing the wheels or landing gear to strike certain electric power and light wires' and caused the plane to crash; that when the plane struck the ground the belt around his wife (seated immediately behind him) broke; that she was thrown forward against him thereby causing his injuries. The petition specifically alleged, 'that the breaking of the rotten and defective belt was the direct and proximate cause of his injuries.'

Plaintiff submitted his case in his instruction 1, and predicated his verdict upon the jury finding, that the 'safety strap provided for the back seat of said airplane in which the wife of plaintiff was riding was rotten and unsafe, * * * that * * * the safety strap * * * broke', that 'the breaking was due to its rotten and defective condition', that his wife was thrown against him causing his injuries, and that the 'breaking of said belt was the proximate cause of plaintiff's injury or (if the break) concurred with an Act of God (the down draft) in causing said injuries.'

The evidence showed that plaintiff was a licensed pilot, and, before the day of his injury, had flown the plane which he was flying when he crashed; that about a week before the crash he arranged to rent the plane in question; that when plaintiff and his wife went to defendant's airfield near Farmington, Missouri, on August 31, 1947, to get the plane plaintiff was advised by defendant that the plane 'was ready for the trip.' It had been given a 'line check' inspection and general servicing. Gas and oil were checked. There was no oil leak. After every 25 hours of operation the plane had been inspected by a licensed mechanic before the oil was changed and all minor repairs were made. Plaintiff testified: 'I looked the plane over myself. Outwardly it appeared good, and checked all control mechanisms * * * and checked all instruments before taking off. * * * I looked the plane over to see that it had a sufficient gas supply and ready to fly. * * * I checked the instruments and the air safety belts to see if they was secure and tight, and we took off,' etc. Plaintiff was piloting the plane, and stopped for an hour at the Rolla airport. After leaving Rolla, and upon on approaching the Grand Glaize airfield plaintiff first made a low approach to survey the field, and then made 'the regular traffic pattern and standard approach to the field for landing.' The wind had a velocity of ten to fifteen miles per hour and 'was lined up perfectly with the runway.' He saw some telephone wires and cleared them. He did not see the electric power wires which the plane struck while he was attempting the landing. The field was about 2,000 feet long. Plaintiff testified the air 'was a little bit rough and turbulent but not enough to make it unpleasant * * * nothing abnormal.' Due to the nature of its construction plaintiff said he did not have good visibility ahead over the nose of the plane but he testified he could see 'if you look to one side or the other.' Oil spray 'formed up', and limited his visibility on his left side. In landing the plane hit the power line wires and in a split second crashed at about 50 miles an hour.

The power line wires about 35 feet off the ground and 'across the end of the landing strip.' One pole for these wires 'is directly in the path of the runway.' One wheel of the plane hit a power wire, broke it, and the plane nosed down and 'hit the ground at about a 45 degree angle.' The impact dug up the earthen runway. The cowling under the engine was imbedded in the runway. The engine and fire wall were pushed back toward the pilot's seat. After the plane crashed one power wire was in the plane wreckage and had to be cut free to get Mrs. Stone out. After the crash the safety belt across in front of plaintiff's wife was found to be broken. The belt fastened across in front of plaintiff was not broken. Plaintiff's seat in the plane was struck from behind. His wife was partly against the corner of plaintiff's seat; she had been thrown through the door of the plane and her body was 'hanging partly out of the plane on the other side.' She, too, sustained personal injuries in the crash. Plaintiff's foot was driven through the bottom of the plane. He was removed from the plane with great difficulty. 'He was jammed up almost to the instrument board, practically against it.' The wrecked plane was sold for junk. Plaintiff's wife testified that she did not 'remember anything about the landing at all.' Plaintiff testified that when a plane hits the ground 'on a nose dive' that much force is generated and it is the tendency of all objects in the plane to 'go forward.'

Prior to the crash the safety belt was fastened across in front of plaintiff's wife. After the crash it was found to be broken 'about halfway between the buckle and the place where it fastened to the metal frame work.' The belt was woven of 'three-sixteenths inch material * * * very heavy cloth material.' The break showed no raggedness, 'just a straight piece of belt very clean cut. * * * The tear was very smooth, very plain.' When a new belt is strained to the breaking point it tears 'in a very ragged manner and leaves long shreds * * * doesn't tear at one place, tears haphazardly and ragged.' Mr. Thompson, manager of the Grand Glaize airport, was standing on the field and saw the plane crash. He also examined the belt in question and testified that in a new belt 'the fibers in...

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11 cases
  • Kirst v. Clarkson Const. Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 12, 1965
    ...amount, plaintiff will not be heard to complain upon appeal about the admission or exclusion of evidence. Stone v. Farmington Aviation Corp., 360 Mo. 1015, 1021, 232 S.W.2d 495, 499(4); Cochran v. Wilson, 287 Mo. 210, 228, 229 S.W. 1050, 1056(5). See McCormack v. McNamee, Mo., 274 S.W.2d 27......
  • Farmer v. Taylor
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 1957
    ...922, 254 S.W.2d 662, 667(9); McClanahan v. St. Louis Public Service Co., 363 Mo. 500, 251 S.W.2d 704, 709(7); Stone v. Farmington Aviation Corp., 360 Mo. 1015, 232 S.W.2d 495, 499; Shafer v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., Mo., 295 S.W.2d 109, 116-117(18).10 Edelen v. St. Louis Public Serv......
  • Nicklaus v. Hughes Tool Company
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • October 27, 1969
    ...of the damage complained of, Kapp v. Bob Sullivan Chevrolet Co., 234 Ark. 395, 353 S.W.2d 5 (1962); Stone v. Farmington Aviation Corp., 360 Mo. 1015, 232 S.W.2d 495 (1950) (Stone I) (negligence), reversed after retrial, 363 Mo. 803, 253 S.W.2d 810 (1953) (Stone II) (warranty); and (3) that ......
  • Thomas v. Jones
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • November 14, 1966
    ...plaintiff who has recovered a substantial verdict. McCormack v. McNamee, Mo.Sup., 274 S.W.2d 272, 279(9, 10); Stone v. Farmington Aviation Corporation, 360 Mo. 1015, 232 S.W.2d 495; Cochran v. Wilson, 287 Mo. 210, 229 S.W. 1050, 1056(5). Here, however, the only issue tried was that of damag......
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