Thomassen v. West St. Louis Water & Light Co., No. 25084.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHigbee
Citation278 S.W. 979
PartiesTHOMASSEN v. WEST ST. LOUIS WATER & LIGHT CO. et al.
Decision Date22 December 1925
Docket NumberNo. 25084.
278 S.W. 979
THOMASSEN
v.
WEST ST. LOUIS WATER & LIGHT CO. et al.
No. 25084.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 2.
December 22, 1925.

Appeal from Circuit Court, St. Louis County John W. McElhinney, Judge.

Action by Hortense Thomassen against the West St. Louis Water & Light Company and another. From a judgment for plaintiff, each defendant appealed separately. Appeals consolidated, and judgment as against defendant named was reversed, and as against defendant Frederick Miller, affirmed, in Court of Appeals (251 S. W. 450). Case was certified' to Supreme Court under Constitutional Amendment of 1884, § 6. Judgment of circuit court affirmed.

A. & J. F. Lee, James A. Waechter, and Joseph Renard, all of St. Louis, for appellants.

Joseph C. McAtee, of Clayton, for respondent.

HIGBEE, C.


Plaintiff recovered judgment against the defendants for damages in the sum of $3,000 for the killing of her husband, which, on appeal to the St. Louis Court of Appeals, was affirmed by the majority opinion as against the defendant Frederick Miller and reversed as to the defendant West St. Louis Water & Light Company. One of the judges deeming the decision of the majority reversing the judgment against the corporate defendant contrary to the decisions of this court, the case was accordingly certified and transferred to this court, as required by section 6 of the amendment of 1884 to our Constitution. The majority and minority opinions, which are reported in 251 S. W. 450, fully state the facts in the case. Briefly, they are: The corporate defendant had laborers employed at a distance from their homes, and, in addition to their wages, it had agreed to convey them to and from their place of work. A man by the name of Harris had conveyed some of the laborers to their place of work on the morning of July 13, 1918. During the afternoon he telephoned the defendant Miller, the foreman of the company, that his automobile was broken. In similar exigencies on former occasions Miller had taken the workmen to their homes in his truck and received $3 from the company for each trip. This was in accordance with an understanding he had with the manager of the company. On the evening in question, pursuant to this understanding, he took some of the workmen to their homes in his truck, and, as the jury found on substantial evidence, negligently ran his truck against plaintiff's husband on a public highway, inflicting injuries from which he died in a few hours. As said in the dissenting opinion:

"It appears that Miller was not engaged in au independent occupation or employment as a carrier of passengers, had not done such work for any one else, and only occasionally did it for the company."

There is no disagreement about the facts. It was held in the majority opinion that, in carrying the workmen to and from their place of work Miller was acting in the capacity of an independent contractor, and that the company was not liable to respond in damages for the negligent killing of plaintiff's husband.

We do not think, as held in the majority opinion, that it can be said as a matter of law that in carrying the workmen to their homes Miller was acting as an independent contractor. We think the dissenting opinion of Allen, P. J., correctly declares the law in this respect. In Mori v. Dolph (Mo. Sup.) 192 S. W. 949, at foot column 2, p. 950, Judge Bond quoted approvingly from a standard authority as follows:

"According to the definition substantially adopted by many courts, with some variation in language, an `independent contractor' is one, who, exercising an independent employment, contracts to do a piece of work according to his own methods, and without being subject to the control of his employer except as to the result of his work. 14 R. C. L. p. 67, par. 2; 2 Thompson on Negligence, p. 899, § 22; McGrath v. St. Louis, 215 Mo. loc. cit. 210, 114 S. W. 611."

See, also, O'Hara v. Laclede Gas Light Co., 244 Mo. 395, 409, 148 S. W. 884; Loth v. Columbia Theater Co., 197 Mo. 328, 354, 94 S. W. 847.

In Munich v. Brocker, 119 Mo. App. 332, 337, 97 S. W. 549, 550, Judge Goode said:

"When a person is an independent contractor and when merely a servant, are questions that have engaged the attention of the appellate tribunals of this state frequently; and yet we should hesitate to say that any test of universal application has been prescribed. Among others these cases may be consulted on...

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15 practice notes
  • Bloecher v. Duerbeck, No. 30723.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 3, 1933
    ...the relationship of independent contractor exists. Thomassen v. West St. Louis W. & L. Co., 251 S.W. 453; Same case in 312 Mo. 150, 278 S.W. 979; Hoelker v. Am. Press Co., 317 Mo. 64, 296 S.W. 1008. (b) Where the negligence which contributes to cause the injury is in the plans and speci......
  • Howard v. Mobile & Ohio Railroad Co., No. 32092.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1934
    ...Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90; Gettys v. Am. Car & Foundry Co., 16 S.W. (2d) 85; Thomassen v. West St. Louis W. & L. Co., 278 S.W. 979. (b) The plaintiff's evidence is that the movement of the four empty cars had been completed, and that the engine was going to track No. 6 to break......
  • Harlan v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32085.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1934
    ...drawn therefrom. Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90; Gettys v. Am. C. & F. Co., 16 S.W. (2d) 85; Thomasson v. West St. L.W. & L. Co., 278 S.W. 979; Railroad Co. v. Hughes, 278 U.S. 496; Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Donaldson, 246 U.S. 121. (b) The defendants' alleged violation of the Feder......
  • Mallory v. Ice & Supply Co., No. 26332.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 18, 1928
    ...v. Missouri Car & Foundry Co., 177 Mo. 427; McGrath v. St. Louis, 215 Mo. l.c. 210; Thomassen v. West St. Louis Water & Light Co., 278 S.W. 979. When the facts essential to characterize an employment are undisputed, the question of the relation created is one for the court; but wher......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Bloecher v. Duerbeck, No. 30723.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 3, 1933
    ...the relationship of independent contractor exists. Thomassen v. West St. Louis W. & L. Co., 251 S.W. 453; Same case in 312 Mo. 150, 278 S.W. 979; Hoelker v. Am. Press Co., 317 Mo. 64, 296 S.W. 1008. (b) Where the negligence which contributes to cause the injury is in the plans and speci......
  • Howard v. Mobile & Ohio Railroad Co., No. 32092.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1934
    ...Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90; Gettys v. Am. Car & Foundry Co., 16 S.W. (2d) 85; Thomassen v. West St. Louis W. & L. Co., 278 S.W. 979. (b) The plaintiff's evidence is that the movement of the four empty cars had been completed, and that the engine was going to track No. 6 to break......
  • Harlan v. Wabash Ry. Co., No. 32085.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1934
    ...drawn therefrom. Gunning v. Cooley, 281 U.S. 90; Gettys v. Am. C. & F. Co., 16 S.W. (2d) 85; Thomasson v. West St. L.W. & L. Co., 278 S.W. 979; Railroad Co. v. Hughes, 278 U.S. 496; Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Donaldson, 246 U.S. 121. (b) The defendants' alleged violation of the Feder......
  • Mallory v. Ice & Supply Co., No. 26332.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 18, 1928
    ...v. Missouri Car & Foundry Co., 177 Mo. 427; McGrath v. St. Louis, 215 Mo. l.c. 210; Thomassen v. West St. Louis Water & Light Co., 278 S.W. 979. When the facts essential to characterize an employment are undisputed, the question of the relation created is one for the court; but wher......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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