Washington Co v. Hickey, No. 253

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPECKHAM
Citation17 S.Ct. 661,41 L.Ed. 1101,166 U.S. 521
PartiesWASHINGTON & G. R. CO. et al. v. HICKEY et al
Docket NumberNo. 253
Decision Date19 April 1897

166 U.S. 521
17 S.Ct. 661
41 L.Ed. 1101
WASHINGTON & G. R. CO. et al.

v.

HICKEY et al.

No. 253.
April 19, 1897.

Page 522

Samuel Maddox and Walter D. Davidge, for plaintiffs in error.

M. J. Colbert and Geo. E. Hamilton, for defendants in error.

Mr. Justice PECKHAM delivered the opinion of the court.

This action was brought by the defendants in error, who are husband and wife, to recover from the defendants (the one being a horse-car company and the other a steam-railroad company) damages for personal injuries sustained by the wife on account of the alleged negligence of the servants of the defendants. The facts of the negligence were alleged in the declaration, and each defendant filed a plea of not guilty, upon which issue was joined. A trial was had in the supreme court of the District of Columbia, resulting in a verdict for the plaintiffs, the judgment upon which having been affirmed by the court of appeals, the defendants have brought the case here for review.

On the trial, evidence was given tending to show these facts: Mrs. Hickey, one of the plaintiffs, who was living with her husband in the city of Washington, left her home therein on the morning of the 12th day of August, 1889, and took a street car of the defendant horse-railroad company at the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Seventh street, for the purpose of going south along the last-named street. The car was a summer car, and crowded with people going to the river on an excursion. She sat on the outside of the third seat, in the front of the car, and in a very small space. The people seemed in a hurry, and some of them called out frequently to the driver to 'hurry up.' Upon coming to the crossing of Seventh street and Maryland avenue, where the car tracks of the two corporations intersect each other, the steam cars were seen approach-

Page 523

ing the intersection at quite a rapid rate. The street car stopped upon coming to the crossing, as the railroad gates were lowered. Then, and before the steam train came on, they were raised, and the street car was started; and, after it got on the track of the steam cars, the gates were again lowered, shutting in the street car, the gates coming down, one on the car, and one just behind the horses. When the street car entered upon the steam-car crossing, the train on the tracks of the latter company was still moving quite rapidly towards the crossing, and but a short distance away, and in plain sight from the horse car. After getting partially upon the steam railroad track, the gates, as stated, came down, and then they were again raised, and the driver of the horse car whipped up his horses, and the car got across. Before the horse car had crossed the tracks, the steam cars were coming pretty fast. The men who were sitting down in the horse car all got up, and the women commenced screaming. The people on the horse car rushed to get off, and Mrs. Hickey was, in the course of the excitement and commotion, pushed off the car, and was badly and permanently injured. When she fell, the steam cars were coming down, and the horse car (the gates having been raised) was then driven across to the other side. The train was so close to the horse car that it just got off the track in time to escape being run over, while Mrs. Hickey says she was so near the steam-car tracks when the train passed that she felt the air from the engine upon her head.

One of the witnesses said that the driver of the street car first noticed the train when he was about 50 feet from the steam car track. His car was moving at the rate of 4 1/2 to 5 miles an hour, and the train was then between Eighth and Ninth streets, about 300 feet from Seventh street. The driver wanted to cross the steam car tracks before the gate went down, and thought he could do so without danger. He did not see that the gates were being lowered as he approached, and did not put on the brakes or make other effort to stop the car until 'he got the bell.' The gates were once lowered, and then raised to let the car pass, and then they were again lowered; and it was when they were

Page 524

lowered the second time that they came down between the car and the horses, penning the car in on the steam track. The gates were raised again, and the driver succeeded in getting the horse car across the track before the train approached.

The counsel for the horse-car company claimed that the cause of the accident was the commotion immediately preceding it, and by reason of which the plaintiff was pushed from the car and injured; and the question was, what caused the commotion? He urged that the commotion was caused by the improper and negligent lowering of the gates at the time when they penned the horse car between them, and prevented its progress across the tracks of the steam-car company, and that, if the gates had not been thus lowered, the horse car would have had plenty of time to cross, and there would have been no commotion and no accident. He therefore made several requests to the court to charge the jury upon that subject. The point of such requests was that if the jury should find that the commotion and confusion which led to the accident were caused by the sudden and negligent lowering of the gates upon the street car, which the driver of that car had no reason to believe would be thus lowered, and if the driver could have crossed in safety but for such lowering, then the horse-car company was not responsible, and no recovery could be had against it.

A further request was made to charge that there was no evidence that the management of the horse car entered into or contributed to the negligence of the gatekeeper, and, if the jury should find that the injury was caused by the negligence of the gatekeeper, the verdict must be in favor of the horse-car company; also, that if the jury should find that the horse car would have passed the steam car track without injury to the plaintiff except for the lowering of the gates upon the horse car, and that the lowering was the cause of the injury, and was an act of negligence on the part of the gatekeeper, then the horse-car company was not responsible for the injury; also, that if the jury found the injury to getekeeper in the result of negligence of the gatekeeper in the management of the gates, and that but for such negligence the injury

Page 525

would not have been sustained by the plaintiff, and that the driver of the horse car did not know and had no reason to believe that the gatekeeper would be negligent, then the plaintiffs were not entitled to recover against the horse-car company.

The refusal of the court to charge as requested was excepted to, and is now made a ground for the reversal of the judgment by this court. In his argument here, the counsel for the horse-car company said: 'The gist of all of which instructions is that, no matter whether it was negligence or not for the street-car company to drive its car upon the steam-car track, yet, if the jury found that it was the lowering of the gates (and not the negligence, if it were such, in going upon the steam track) that caused the injury, then they should find for the street-car company. The gist of the instructions is that it was the lowering of the gates that caused the injury.'

The vice in all this argument, as we think, consists in the attempted separation into two distinct causes (remote and proximate) of what in reality was one continuous cause. It leaves out of view the action of the driver of the street car as to whether he was or was not...

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81 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Stoner, No. 94-6377
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • October 10, 1996
    ...where it " 'was not of a character which could have misled the defendant at the trial' " (quoting Washington & G.R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U.S. 521, 531, 17 S.Ct. 661, 665, 41 L.Ed. 1101 (1897))); Williamson, 53 F.3d at 1513 (holding that where a simple variance occurs, the conviction is upheld......
  • Jacobs v. Atl. Coast Line R. Co, (No. 12505.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 2, 1928
    ...agencies, and this must be determined in view of the circumstances existing at the time." In Washington & G. R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U. S. 521, 17 S. Ct. 661, 41 L. Ed. 1101: "The suicide of Scheffer was not a result naturally and reasonably to be expected from the injury received on the trai......
  • Edmonds v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, No. 78-479
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1979
    ...(1879); W. Prosser, Law of Torts § 47, pp. 297-299, and § 52, pp. 314-315 (4th ed. 1971); cf. Washington & Georgetown R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U.S. 521, 527, 17 S.Ct. 661, 663, 41 L.Ed. 1101 (1897). A tortfeasor is not relieved of liability for the entire harm he caused just because another's ......
  • Green v. Atlanta &. C. A. L. Ry. Co, (No. 12481.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 7, 1928
    ...agencies, and this must be determined in view of the circumstances existing at the time." In Washington & G. R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U. S. 521, 17 S. Ct. 661, 41 L. Ed. 1101: "The suicide of Schelfer was not a result naturally and reasonably to be expected from the injury received on the trai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • U.S. v. Stoner, No. 94-6377
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • October 10, 1996
    ...where it " 'was not of a character which could have misled the defendant at the trial' " (quoting Washington & G.R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U.S. 521, 531, 17 S.Ct. 661, 665, 41 L.Ed. 1101 (1897))); Williamson, 53 F.3d at 1513 (holding that where a simple variance occurs, the conviction is upheld......
  • Jacobs v. Atl. Coast Line R. Co, (No. 12505.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 2, 1928
    ...agencies, and this must be determined in view of the circumstances existing at the time." In Washington & G. R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U. S. 521, 17 S. Ct. 661, 41 L. Ed. 1101: "The suicide of Scheffer was not a result naturally and reasonably to be expected from the injury received on the trai......
  • Edmonds v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, No. 78-479
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1979
    ...(1879); W. Prosser, Law of Torts § 47, pp. 297-299, and § 52, pp. 314-315 (4th ed. 1971); cf. Washington & Georgetown R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U.S. 521, 527, 17 S.Ct. 661, 663, 41 L.Ed. 1101 (1897). A tortfeasor is not relieved of liability for the entire harm he caused just because another's ......
  • Green v. Atlanta &. C. A. L. Ry. Co, (No. 12481.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 7, 1928
    ...agencies, and this must be determined in view of the circumstances existing at the time." In Washington & G. R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U. S. 521, 17 S. Ct. 661, 41 L. Ed. 1101: "The suicide of Schelfer was not a result naturally and reasonably to be expected from the injury received on the trai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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