Vitucci Importing Co. v. City of Seattle

Citation72 Wash. 192,130 P. 109
PartiesVITUCCI IMPORTING CO. v. CITY OF SEATTLE.
Decision Date21 February 1913
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington

Department 2. Appeal from Superior Court, King County; J. T. Ronald Judge.

Action by the Vitucci Importing Company against the City of Seattle. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Jas. E Bradford and C. B. White, both of Seattle, for appellant.

John E Ryan and Grover E. Desmond, both of Seattle, for respondent.

MAIN J.

This is an action for damages to personal property. The appellant, the city of Seattle, is a municipal corporation of the first class. The respondent, the Vitucci Importing Company, is a private corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the state of Washington. At a certain point in the city of Seattle, Jackson street and Occidental avenue, both public thoroughfares, intersect at right angles. A sewer system is maintained and controlled by the city. In the center of Jackson street is laid a main sewer, 20 inches in diameter. Radiating from this main sewer are lateral sewers for the accommodation of the adjacent property. At the southeast corner of these two streets stands a building which is devoted to wholesale purposes. In this building respondent occupied storeroom No. 406, fronting on Occidental avenue, and the basement thereunder. An adjacent storeroom and basement were occupied by the Miller Furnace Company. Between the two basements there stood a board partition. The respondent was engaged in the wholesale grocery business, and had stored in the basement occupied by it a certain quantity of merchandise. On October 24, 1911, the main sewer, at a point a short distance west of the intersection of Jackson street and Occidental avenue, became obstructed. This arrested the flow of sewage and caused it to set back and pass up the lateral used for the accommodation of the building a part of which respondent occupied, thence into the basement occupied by the Miller Furnace Company, and from there through the wooden partition into the basement occupied by the respondent, and caused damage to the amount of $594.83. Thereafter, and within the required time, the respondent presented its claim for damages for this amount to the city of Seattle. This being rejected, suit was instituted. The cause was tried to the court and a jury.

Upon the trial the respondent, after making certain preliminary proof, introduced evidence showing the obstruction of the sewer, the amount of the consequent damages, and that there had been no extraordinary conditions such as excessive rains or freshets, which could have caused the obstruction, but did not introduce any evidence showing failure of a reasonable inspection on the part of the city, or notice thereto of the obstruction. The appellant challenged the legal sufficiency of this evidence and moved for a dismissal of the action, which was denied. Thereupon the appellant introduced certain evidence, but did not controvert the facts above indicated as established by the respondent. Neither did it introduce any evidence showing inspection of the sewer prior to the injury. At the conclusion of the evidence the appellant moved for a directed verdict. This was overruled. Thereupon the respondent moved for a directed verdict, which was granted. Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and motion for a new trial being seasonably made and overruled, an appeal was taken to this court.

The record in the case presents three questions: (1) What is the measure of the city's duty in keeping its sewers in repair and free from obstructions; (2) is notice an essential element of liability; and (3) do the facts established make a prima facie showing of negligence?

As to the measure of duty, it is well settled that a municipal corporation is not an insurer of the condition of its sewers; and that, to charge it with damages occasioned by an obstruction therein, negligence must be proven. This proposition is not controverted. It is so well known as not to require the citation of authority in its support.

On the second question, that of notice, the authorities are not...

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15 cases
  • C. C. Anderson Stores Co. v. Boise Water Corp.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 22, 1962
    ...Idaho 550, 283 P. 606; Yearsley v. City of Pocatello, 69 Idaho 500, 210 P.2d 795; 71 Idaho 347, 231 P.2d 743; Vitucci Importing Co. v. City of Seattle, 72 Wash. 192, 130 P. 109; Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Lamberson (9th Cir.) 144 F.2d 97. The burden of establishing such negligence rests upon ......
  • Lober v. Kansas City
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 14, 1936
    ...... doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. Lober v. Kansas. City, 74 S.W.2d 818; Vitucci Importing Co. v. Seattle, 72 Wash. 192, 130 P. 111; Talcott v. New. York, 58 A.D. 514, 69 N.Y.S. ......
  • Lober v. Kansas City, 34710.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 14, 1936
    ...a case for the jury under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. Lober v. Kansas City, 74 S.W. (2d) 818; Vitucci Importing Co. v. Seattle, 72 Wash. 192, 130 Pac. 111; Talcott v. New York, 58 App. Div. 514, 69 N.Y. Supp. 360; Silverburg v. New York, 59 Misc. Rep. 492, 110 N.Y. Supp. 993; 45 C.J.......
  • Dunn v. Boise City
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 26, 1929
    ...... Evansville v. Behme, 49 Ind.App. 448, 97 N.E. 565; Chase. v. City of Seattle, 80 Wash. 61, 141 P. 180.). . . C. H. Edwards and Harry S. Kessler, for Respondent. . ...194; Gravey v. City of New. York, 117 A.D. 773, 102 N.Y.S. 1010; Vittucci. Importing Co. v. City of Seattle, 72 Wash. 192, 130 P. 109.) The duty of the city to keep the flume across ......
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