Tobin v. Van Orsdol, No. 47764

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMULRONEY
Citation45 N.W.2d 239,241 Iowa 1331
Docket NumberNo. 47764
Decision Date12 December 1950
PartiesTOBIN v. VAN ORSDOL et al.

Page 239

45 N.W.2d 239
241 Iowa 1331
TOBIN

v.
VAN ORSDOL et al.
No. 47764.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Dec. 12, 1950.

Page 241

[241 Iowa 1333] John D. Randall, Richard F. Nazette, of Cedar Rapids, for appellants.

Otto L. Schluter, Adam A. Kreuter, of Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

MULRONEY, Justice.

Much of defendants' brief is devoted to an argument that plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law. We shall state the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff.

Plaintiff, Ollie, Tobin who is 58 years old, was a packing house employee in Cedar Rapids. On July 29, 1948, he got off work about noon and walked to a barber shop located on the east side of Third Street and about 100 feet south of Eighth Avenue. He stayed in the barber shop about 15 minutes talking to friends and then walked directly across Third Street to a gasoline filling station to buy some cigarettes. He bought the cigarettes and started back to the barber shop. Before leaving the curb in front of the filling station he looked to his left at the traffic light signal at the Eighth Avenue intersection, about a hundred feet north. This signal was an overhead signal in the center of the intersection, with red, green and amber lights. He saw that this signal was red--on the south side--and that there was no traffic south of the intersection. He started across the street east and when he had taken four or five steps from the curb he was hit by the taxicab driven by the defendant Van Orsdol. The taxicab came from the north and three witnesses testified it ran through the red light at the intersection and there was evidence that the cab was traveling 40 to 45 miles an hour as it went through the intersection. The impact caused a dent in the right front fender and hood of the cab. Plaintiff recovered a judgment against Van Orsdol and his employer, Marvin Hart, and defendants appeal.

I. The plaintiff had equal rights with a motorist when crossing the highway at the place he started across. Whitman v. Pilmer, 214 Iowa 461, 239 N.W. 686. The driver of the taxi and the plaintiff were each under a duty to exercise reasonable care. Lawson v. Fordyce, 237 Iowa 28, 21 N.W.2d 69; Sec. 321-329, Code 1950, I.C.A.

[241 Iowa 1334] II. Defendants' argument that the record shows plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence is based largely on disputed testimony. Defendants point to evidence that would show the attempted crossing was 162 feet south of the intersection. The point is not very material. Admittedly he was not at a crosswalk. There was some evidence that there were two parked cars at the curbing in front of the filling station and that plaintiff stepped out in front of one of these cars. Plaintiff did not remember any parked cars but said if there were they wouldn't interfere with his view of the traffic signal or traffic from the north. Defendants argue this is a 'darting' case--where a pedestrian darts out between parked cars into the path of a motorist. They point to the evidence of the taxi driver that plaintiff jumped out from in front of a parked car directly into his path. This evidence is disputed by plaintiff's testimony that he 'made four or five steps in the street * * * it was just ordinary walking', and by the evidence of the lady who sold plaintiff the cigarettes:

Page 242

'I observed him walk away from the station for a short way. He was walking at normal speed. I didn't observe him cross the street.'

III. Defendants argue plaintiff's own testimony convicts him of contributory negligence. On direct examination he testified as to his glance north when he was on the curb when he saw the traffic light which was red for north-south traffic. On cross-examination he said he could see north for a distance of a block and a half or two blocks and that he saw no car approaching from the north; that he took a second look north after he had taken two steps from the curb and again saw no car from the north. On redirect examination he said this second look was just an instant before he was hit. Defendants argue the foregoing shows that plaintiff did not look north for if he had he would have seen the cab, since he could see two blocks north; and this proves he was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law within the rule of cases like Sheridan v. Limbrecht, 205 Iowa 573, 218 N.W. 278 and Jarvis v. Stone, 216 Iowa 27, 247 N.W. 393. The rule of those cases is that the pedestrian will not be heard to say he looked and saw no car when under all of the circumstances by looking, he could not have failed to see the car in close proximity to him. But that is not this case.

[241 Iowa 1335] The fair import of his testimony is that on his first look north his glance went no further than the traffic light some hundred feet away. He said this was 'red' that he 'noticed it carefully.' We would not hold plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law because he did not look further north than the traffic signal. We have held pedestrians on the highway have a right to rely on 'every other traveler's compliance with the statutes and the laws of the road'. Lawson v. Fordyce, 237 Iowa 28, 21 N.W.2d 69, 82. 'Neither pedestrian nor auto driver is called upon to anticipate negligence on the part of the other.' Smith v. Spirek, 196 Iowa 1328, at page 1333, 195 N.W. 736, 739. The case is much like Orr v. Hart, 219 Iowa 408, 258 N.W. 84, where the southbound pedestrian in looking east before starting to cross a street, noticed he was protected from westbound traffic by a flagman and an approaching train from the south. When struck by a car from the east that crossed ahead of the train we held the plaintiff was not guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law because he failed to see the motorist.

In Orth v. Gregg, 217 Iowa 516, 250 N.W. 113, 114, where the plaintiff-pedestrian was struck by a car as he crossed a street between intersections, we said: 'Plaintiff was bound to use reasonable care under all the surrounding circumstances for his own safety. Plaintiff's right to assume that defendant (motorist) would obey the law is an important consideration in determining what reasonable care required him to do for his own safety. Roe v. Kurtz, 203 Iowa 906, 210 N.W. 550; Hanson v. Manning, 213 Iowa 625, 239 N.W. 793. What constitutes such care is usually a jury question.'

IV. The record is uncertain as to just when, in the course of his travel across the street, plaintiff took this second look north. And the entire record of his testimony leaves one with the impression that plaintiff was uncertain as to the exact number of steps he took from the curb before he took this second look to the north. This is not surprising. The trial was about a year and four months after the accident. The plaintiff is a man with an eighth grade education. True he testified on cross-examination that he looked north the second time after he had [241 Iowa 1336] left the curb. One place in his testimony he said he had taken one or two steps into the street. Defendants fasten on this portion of his testimony and place it along side his testimony, on direct examination, that he was hit after four or five steps from the curb and say it shows he took two or three steps east after his last look north before he was hit. But when the cross-examiner in his question suggested that he took two or three more steps after his second glance the plaintiff replied: 'No, after that I was struck.' And in redirect examination he said his second look north was 'just an instant before I was hit.' Such inconsistency

Page 243

as there might be in plaintiff's testimony was for the jury to decide. Switzer v. Baker, 178 Iowa 1063, 160 N.W. 372; Margeson v. Town Taxi, Inc., 266 Mass. 192, 165 N.E. 20: 58 Am.Jur., Witnesses, sec. 863.

V. Defendants argue the trial court erred in various rulings with respect to the evidence of the speed of the taxi cab and the evidence tending to show the cab went through the...

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12 practice notes
  • Hutchins v. LaBarre, No. 47779
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 4, 1951
    ...150, 268 N.W. 144; Odegard v. Gregerson, 234 Iowa 325, 12 N.W.2d 559; Falt v. Krug, 239 Iowa 766, 32 N.W. 781; Tobin v. Van Orsdol, Iowa, 45 N.W.2d 239; Leinen v. Boettger, Iowa, 44 N.W.2d Defendants and the trial court have based their conclusions strongly upon a plat of the outlines of th......
  • Ackerman v. James, No. 54984
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1972
    ...under all the circumstances by looking, he could not have failed to see the car in close proximity to Page 826 him. Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 1334, 45 N.W.2d 239, However, this does not answer the problem. Evidence bearing on such fact would be relevant to the question of the pede......
  • Guinn v. Millard Truck Lines, Inc., No. 51645
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 6, 1965
    ...her to look farther south as she entered the intersection and was negligent in not doing so, was answered in Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 45 N.W.2d 239, where we said that question was clearly one for the jury. We are satisfied Mrs. Guinn was not negligent as a matter of law in faili......
  • Anthes v. Anthes, No. 51793
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 14, 1965
    ...witness is ordinarily for the jury to weigh and consider. Kaltenheuser v. Sesker, 255 Iowa 110, 116, 121 N.W.2d 672; Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 1334, 45 N.W.2d 239; Jettre v. Healy, 245 Iowa 294, 297, 60 N.W.2d 541; Hess v. Dicks, 192 Iowa 378, 382, 184 N.W. 742; and Law v. Hemming......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Hutchins v. LaBarre, No. 47779
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 4, 1951
    ...150, 268 N.W. 144; Odegard v. Gregerson, 234 Iowa 325, 12 N.W.2d 559; Falt v. Krug, 239 Iowa 766, 32 N.W. 781; Tobin v. Van Orsdol, Iowa, 45 N.W.2d 239; Leinen v. Boettger, Iowa, 44 N.W.2d Defendants and the trial court have based their conclusions strongly upon a plat of the outlines of th......
  • Ackerman v. James, No. 54984
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1972
    ...under all the circumstances by looking, he could not have failed to see the car in close proximity to Page 826 him. Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 1334, 45 N.W.2d 239, However, this does not answer the problem. Evidence bearing on such fact would be relevant to the question of the pede......
  • Guinn v. Millard Truck Lines, Inc., No. 51645
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 6, 1965
    ...her to look farther south as she entered the intersection and was negligent in not doing so, was answered in Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 45 N.W.2d 239, where we said that question was clearly one for the jury. We are satisfied Mrs. Guinn was not negligent as a matter of law in faili......
  • Anthes v. Anthes, No. 51793
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 14, 1965
    ...witness is ordinarily for the jury to weigh and consider. Kaltenheuser v. Sesker, 255 Iowa 110, 116, 121 N.W.2d 672; Tobin v. Van Orsdol, 241 Iowa 1331, 1334, 45 N.W.2d 239; Jettre v. Healy, 245 Iowa 294, 297, 60 N.W.2d 541; Hess v. Dicks, 192 Iowa 378, 382, 184 N.W. 742; and Law v. Hemming......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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