Travis v. Duckworth

Citation75 S.E.2d 309,237 N.C. 471
Decision Date08 April 1953
Docket NumberNo. 309,309
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
PartiesTRAVIS, v. DUCKWORTH et al.

G. Andrew Warlick, Newton and Theodore F. Cummings, Hickory, for plaintiff, appellee.

Mull, Patton & Craven, Morganton, for defendant Bowman, appellant.

DEVIN, Chief Justice.

The defendant Bowman's appeal presents the question whether the evidence offered was sufficient to support the finding and judgment that defendant Duckworth, the driver of the offending tractor, at the time and place of the injury and death of plaintiff's intestate, was acting within the scope of his employment by defendant Bowman and in the furtherance of his employer's business. Appellant contends that his motion for judgment of nonsuit should have been allowed, or that in any event he was entitled to have the court give a peremptory instruction to the jury in his favor as prayed.

The plaintiff, however, invokes the provisions of Chap. 494 Session Laws 1951, as sufficient under the evidence and admissions here to withstand defendant's motion for judgment of nonsuit and to carry the case to the jury. This statute now codified as G.S. § 20-71.1 provides that (a) in all actions to recover damages for injury to the person or death arising out of an accident in which a motor vehicle is involved, 'proof of ownership of such motor vehicle at the time of such accident or collision shall be prima facie evidence that said motor vehicle was being operated and used with the authority, consent, and knowledge of the owner in the very transaction out of which said injury or cause of action arose.' (b) Proof of the registration of a motor vehicle in the name of any person shall, for the purpose of any such action, 'be prima facie evidence of ownership and that such motor vehicle was then being operated by and under the control of a person for whose conduct the owner was legally responsible, for the owner's benefit, and within the course and scope of his employment'. This suit was instituted within one year after the cause of action accrued and thus came within the terms of the statute.

The evident purpose of this statute was to require that proof of ownership of an offending motor vehicle should be regarded as prima facie evidence that it was being operated at the time of the accident by the authority of the owner, doubtless having in view the decision of this Court in Carter v. Thurston Motor Lines, Inc., 227 N.C. 193, 41 S.E.2d 586, and that, in the absence of proof of ownership, proof of motor vehicle registration in the name of a person would be prima facie evidence that the motor vehicle was being operated by one for whose conduct such person is legally responsible.

It must be conceded that proof of ownership by defendant Bowman of the motor vehicle involved in the injury complained of, by force of the statute, must be regarded as prima facie evidence that at the time and place of the injury caused by it the motor vehicle was being operated by his employee with the authority, consent and knowledge of defendant Bowman. and hence sufficient to carry the case to the jury on the question of the legal responsibility of defendant Bowman for the operation of the tractor on the occasion of the injury and death of plaintiff's intestate.

While the Courts originally established the rules of evidence, they recognize the power of the Legislature to declare that proof of certain related preliminary facts shall be regarded as prima facie evidence of the ultimate fact at issue, and hence as affording sufficient basis for the consideration of the jury. Hunt v. Eure, 189 N.C. 482, 127 S.E. 593; Vance v. Guy, 224 N.C. 607, 31 S.E.2d 766; Stansbury, § 203.

But there is here a dearth of any evidence, other than that afforded by the statute, to show that at the time and place of the accident defendant Duckworth was acting within the scope of his employment and about his employer's business. Without...

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34 cases
  • Branch v. Dempsey, 194
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 15 d3 Dezembro d3 1965
    ...not, in fact, its owner's agent, the owner is entitled to a peremptory instruction in his favor on the issue of agency, Travis v. Duckworth, 237 N.C. 471, 75 S.E.2d 309. See Taylor v. Parks, 254 N.C. 266, 118 S.E.2d 779. If the agency of the driver is eliminated, so is the owner's In passin......
  • In re Parmalat Securities Litigation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • 21 d1 Setembro d1 2009
    ...273 S.E.2d 268, 272 (1981); Sparks v. Union Trust Co. of Shelby, 256 N.C. 478, 482, 124 S.E.2d 365, 368 (1962); Travis v. Duckworth, 237 N.C. 471, 474, 75 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1953); Sledge Lumber Corp., 126 S.E.2d at 100; Brinson v. Mill Supply Co., 219 N.C. 505, 14 S.E.2d 509, 514 (1941); Fed......
  • Whiteside v. McCarson, 30
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 23 d3 Setembro d3 1959
    ...scope of his agency. In addition to cases heretofore cited: Spencer v. McDowell Motor Co., 236 N.C. 239, 72 S.E.2d 598; Travis v. Duckworth, 237 N.C. 471, 75 S.E.2d 309; Hatcher v. Clayton, 242 N.C. 450, 88 S.E.2d 104; Elliott v. Killian, 242 N.C. 471, 87 S.E.2d 903; Davis v. Lawrence, 242 ......
  • Taylor v. Parks
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 22 d3 Março d3 1961
    ...is charged that the negligence of a nonowner operator causes damage to the property or injury to the person of another. Travis v. Duckworth, 237 N.C. 471, 75 S.E.2d 309. It does not have, and was not intended to have, any other or further force or effect.' This Court in Roberts v. Hill, 240......
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