Warfield v. Hepburn

Decision Date06 January 1912
Citation62 Fla. 418,57 So. 618
CourtFlorida Supreme Court
PartiesWIRFIELD et al. v. HEPBURN et al.

On Rehearing, February 21, 1912.

In Banc. Error to Circuit Court, Hillsborough County; F. M Robles, Judge.

Action by Amelia Hepburn and another against S.D. Warfield and others, as receivers of the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company. Judgment for plaintiffs, and defendants bring error. Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

A declaration should contain sufficient allegations of all the facts that are necessary to state a cause of action. As a general rule, only ultimate facts need be alleged.

Where the facts are, or reasonably should be, within the knowledge of the plaintiff, the declaration should contain sufficient statements of facts to apprise the defendant of the particular acts or circumstances upon which the action is based, in order that there may be no embarrassment in preparing a defense.

In actions for negligent injuries, it may be necessary to allege only the relation between the parties out of which the duty to avoid negligence arises, and the act or omission that proximately caused the injury, coupled with a statement that such act or omission was negligently done or omitted.

In an action by a passenger for injuries received by the operation of a railroad train, it is in general sufficient to allege ultimate facts showing that the relation of passenger and carrier existed, and that the defendant negligently did or omitted the act or acts that proximately caused or contributed to causing the injury as stated, the specific fact that actually caused the injury being duly alleged, so that a definite issue may be presented for trial.

Allegations that the carrier 'so negligently and carelessly operated said train, and so negligently and carelessly failed to take the necessary precaution looking to the safety of said train and its occupants, that the said car in which said plaintiff was riding by and through the negligence of the defendant was derailed, causing the same to be suddenly and violently stopped, from the effects of which the said Amelia Hepburn was' injured, as stated, are sufficient statements of ultimate facts to show negligence of the defendants in the operation of its train and injury to the plaintiff proximately resulting from a particular fact stated, viz the derailing and sudden, violent stopping of the car caused by the negligence alleged.

Allegations that the plaintiff was a passenger, and was riding on defendant's train 'as a passenger * * * and seated in the car assigned to her as a passenger,' are of ultimate facts that on demurrer are sufficient to show the relation of passenger and carrier.

When the plaintiff sufficiently alleges, and proves substantially as alleged, the fact of a personal injury or a property loss caused by the running of a train of the defendant railroad company and also the ultimate fact that actually caused the injury or loss, the statute raises a presumption of negligence against the company, and its liability in damages will then be shown, 'unless the company shall make it appear that its employés exercised all ordinary and reasonable care and diligence; the presumption in all cases being against the company.'

Whether contributory negligence is a bar to an action for a merely negligent injury as at common law, or operates under the statute to diminish the amount of damages recoverable in actions against railroad companies 'for any damage done to persons or * * * property by the running of' the company's trains, such contributory negligence is an affirmative defense, and, to be available either as a bar to the action or to diminish the recovery, it shall be pleaded and proved by the defendant, unless the plaintiff permits it to be shown without objection under other pleas, or unless contributory negligence appears in the case made by the plaintiff.

Where liability appears, compensatory damages may be recovered upon proper allegations and proofs for property losses and personal injuries that result proximately from the negligence.

Damages for such losses and injuries as naturally and ordinarily result proximately from the injury received or loss sustained as alleged may generally be shown in evidence under a general claim for damages, because the defendant is held to notice of the natural and ordinary results of its negligent acts.

When liability in damages for negligence is shown, the burden of distinctly proving by a preponderance of the evidence the character or nature of the personal injuries sustained or of the property rights injured or destroyed, within the sufficient allegations of the declaration, is upon the plaintiff as at common law.

The compensatory damages that are recoverable for personal injuries are such only as proximately result from the negligence alleged.

Every award of damages should be reasonable and just to both the plaintiff and the defendant under the facts properly alleged and shown in evidence.

Where the amount of damages found by a referee is in accordance with the issues made, and is not manifestly unreasonable or unjust in view of the entire legal evidence, the judgment will not be disturbed by the appellate court for excessiveness in amount.

COUNSEL

P. O Knight, for plaintiffs in error.

Hilton S. Hampton and D. A. DeVane, for defendants in error.

OPINION

WHITFIELD C.J.

The part of the declaration that is material here is as follows: 'The plaintiff, Amelia Hepburn, was a passenger on a train operated by said defendants, their servants, agents and employés bound from the city of Jacksonville to the city of Tampa, and on said date, while plaintiff was riding as a passenger aforesaid and seated in the car assigned to her as a passenger, the defendants by their servants and employés, disregarding their duty to the said plaintiff as a passenger, so negligently and carelessly operated said train, and so negligently and carelessly failed to take the necessary precaution looking to the safety of said train and its occupants, that the said car in which said plaintiff was riding by and through the negligence of the defendants was derailed, causing the same to be suddenly and violently stopped, from the effects of which the said Amelia Hepburn was violently thrown from her seat, her body striking a portion of the car, from the effects of which plaintiff suffered grievous injury to her right hip, leg, and back, and from thence until the present time has suffered excruciating pain, being confined to her bed for a period of several weeks, and suffering great shock to her nervous system, the latter injury plaintiff avers being permanent, and has, in addition, been compelled to expend a large sum of money for physician's services, nursing, and medicines in an effort to rid herself of the said injury without avail, and is debarred and prevented by said injury from attending to her household or social duties.'

A demurrer to the declaration upon grounds that only conclusions of law were alleged as to the plaintiff being a passenger and as to the negligence of the defendants being the proximate cause of the injury complained of was overruled. The defendant pleaded not guilty, and a judgment for $4,000 in favor of the...

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52 cases
  • Triay v. Seals
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 21, 1926
    ...and held by this court to conform to the prescribed form set out in Chitty on Pleading (16th Am. Ed.) 576. See, also, Warfield v. Hepburn, 62 Fla. 409, 57 So. 618. In Encyclopedia of Pleading and Practice, at page 333, it is said that the rule is well-nigh universal that in an action for ne......
  • Davis v. Florida Power Co.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • January 11, 1913
    ... ... action. As to the necessary allegations ... [60 So. 768] ... in an action for a negligent injury, see Warfield v ... Hepburn, 62 Fla. 409, 57 So. 618 ... The ... judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for ... appropriate proceedings ... ...
  • Hudson v. Weiland
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 8, 1942
    ...Co. v. Shields, 71 Fla. 110, 70 So. 934; Ingram-Dekle Lbr. Co. v. Geiger, 71 Fla. 390, 71 So. 552, Ann.Cas.1918A, 971; Warfield v. Hepburn, 62 Fla. 409, 57 So. 618; 20 R.C.L. 10; Christopher Co. v. Russell, 63 191, 58 So. 45, Ann.Cas.1913C, 564; Peters v. City of Tampa, 115 Fla. 666, 155 So......
  • Powell v. Jackson Grain Co.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • October 24, 1938
    ...and diligence' in operating the train which is duly alleged to have been negligently done when the injury occurred. See Warfield v. Hepburn, 62 Fla. 409, 57 So. 618; Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Watkins, 97 Fla. 121 So. 95; Tampa Electric Co. v. McCulloch, 115 Fla. 680, 156 So. 259; Johnso......
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