Williams v. Hines

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtGIBBS, Circuit Judge. PER CURIAM.
Citation86 So. 695,80 Fla. 690
Decision Date22 November 1920
PartiesWILLIAMS v. HINES, Director General of Railroads, et al.

86 So. 695

80 Fla. 690

WILLIAMS
v.
HINES, Director General of Railroads, et al.

Florida Supreme Court

November 22, 1920


Error to Court Record, Escambia County; C. Moreno Jones, Judge.

Action by Henry Williams against Walker D. Hines, as Director General of Railroads, and another. Judgment for defendants non obstante veredicto, and plaintiff brings error.

Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

Under doctrine of respondeat superior, acquittal of servant exonerates master. Where the common-law rule prevails, unmodified by statute, the weight of authority supports the holding that in an action against a principal, or master, and his agent, or servant, for damages resulting solely from the negligence of the agent, or servant, acting as such, a verdict of the jury exonerating the agent, or servant, exonerates the principal or master. They are in no sense joint tort-feasors, but the basis of the liability of the principal, or master, is the well-known doctrine of respondeat superior.

Rule that verdict acquitting servant exonerates master not changed by statute. Under the pleadings and the evidence in the case at bar, sections 3148 and 3149 of the General Statutes of Florida of 1906 do not change this rule.

Passenger may recover only for negligence alleged in his declaration. In a case brought against the Director General of Railroads, operating a railroad in the state of Florida, and a locomotive engineer, the servant of such Director General, for damages for injuries resulting to the plaintiff solely because of the negligence of such engineer in the operation of a train which is alleged to have run into the train the plaintiff was entering, no recovery can be had for other negligence than that alleged in the declaration.

Recovery limited to negligence alleged; no presumption of negligence against operator of railroad other than as to negligence alleged. A plaintiff is confined to the cause of action alleged in his declaration and cannot recover for any other act, or acts, of negligence than the act, or acts, alleged, and there is no presumption of negligence against one operating a railroad other than as to the act, or acts, of negligence alleged.

Verdict exonerating negligent servant, but holding master liable, erroneous. Where a jury by its verdict, in an action for damages for injuries sustained, brought against a master and his servant jointly, recovery thereof being based solely upon the negligent act of the servant, exonerates such servant but finds the master guilty, such verdict as to such master is erroneous and should be set aside, or judgment for the defendant master entered notwithstanding such verdict.

COUNSEL [86 So. 695]

[80 Fla. 691] John P. Stokes, of Pensacola, for plaintiff in error.

Blount & Blount & Carter, of Pensacola, for defendants in error.

OPINION

GIBBS, Circuit Judge.

This was an action brought by Henry Williams, the plaintiff in error here, and hereafter in this opinion referred to as the plaintiff, against Walker D. Hines, as Director General of Railroads, the defendant in error here, and hereafter in this opinion referred to as the defendant, and one Drew Williams, the employee of the defendant Hines. The declaration avers that in December, 1918, in Escambia county, Fla., the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was a common carrier of passengers for hire, between the city of Pensacola, Fla., and Flomaton, Ala., and intermediate points, and, as such, was possessed of a certain line of railroad, locomotives propelled by steam, and cars for transportation of passengers between said points, and was then and there under federal control, and the defendant W. D. Hines is now Director General of said railroad; that, at that time, the defendant Drew Williams was in the employ of said railroad in the capacity of engineer upon one of its locomotives [86 So. 696] drawing a train of cars over its said line; that, at that time, when the plaintiff Henry Williams was a passenger upon one of defendant's said trains [80 Fla. 692] of cars and while said train was standing upon defendant's said line of railroad, at the station of McDavid, in said county, the said Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, by and through its said agent, the defendant Drew Williams, did carelessly and negligently propel another of said railroad company's locomotives and trains of cars at and against the train of cars on which the plaintiff was a passenger, striking the same with great force and violence, thereby giving to plaintiff certain wounds and injuries set forth particularly in the declaration but unnecessary to be here enumerated, wherefore the plaintiff claimed $20,000. To this declaration the defendants pleaded the general issue. At the trial the jury rendered a verdict against the defendant Hines in the sum of $4,500 with interest from date of suit and in favor of the defendant Williams. The defendant Hines filed his motion for judgment non obstante veredicto, upon the ground that the declaration relies for recovery against the defendant Hines solely upon the negligent act of the defendant Drew Williams and that the jury had found in favor of the defendant Williams. The motion was granted, and judgment was entered against the plaintiff and in favor of the defendants. To this judgment the plaintiff sued out a writ of error to this court.

There is but one assignment of error:

'The court erred in granting the motion of the defendant Walker D. Hines, as Director General of Railroads, for the entry of a judgment herein in favor of the defendant notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and in entering judgment for the defendant, notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the plaintiff.'

The evidence in the case, omitting that portion detailing the injuries and losses suffered by the plaintiff because [80 Fla. 693] of the accident, is shown in the bill of exceptions as follows:

Plaintiff offered evidence which tended to prove that on the 8th day of December, A. D. 1918, about 30 minutes after midnight, a regular passenger train of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was stopped upon the railway tracks at the station called McDavid, in Escambia county, Fla., about 30 miles north of Pensacola, said train being en route from Pensacola to Flomaton, Ala.; that, when said train stopped at said station for the disembarkation of passengers and the embarkation of passengers, the plaintiff, Henry Williams, having a ticket entitling him to be transported as a passenger on said train from said station of McDavid to Brewton, Ala., boarded said train by means of certain steps, and, while upon the platform of a car, and just as he was in the act of going through the door leading into the car, the said train was struck on the rear end with great force and violence by another train of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, coming from Pensacola and going to Flomation, the defendant Drew Williams being engineer in charge of said second train; that both trains were sections of a train that was due to leave Pensacola between 10 and 11 p. m., and on account of the heavy traffic it was cut into two sections; that, as a result of the second train striking the first train with great violence, the plaintiff was thrown about 20 feet, striking against certain seats in the car, and was finally thrown to the floor in a heap, injuring him.

On behalf of the defendants, evidence was offered which tended to prove that the first section of the train left Pensacola 39 minutes ahead of the second section; that on the night in question a heavy fog was [80 Fla. 694] prevailing; that, while the usual bright electric headlight was on the second train, the engineer, Drew Williams, did not and could not see the train standing on the track at McDavid until he had gotten about 60 feet from it, and that when he discovered the presence of the first train he applied his brakes, shut off his steam, and jumped from the train; that he did not know that the first train was at McDavid, but thought it...

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31 practice notes
  • Durst v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11629.)
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 10, 1924
    ...against the company other than as to acts alleged by the petitioner to have been negligent." In Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 699, 86 So. 695 (quoting syllabus by the court), it is said: "In a case brought against the director general * * * and a locomotive engineer, the servant of s......
  • Dudley v. Harrison, Mccready & Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 16, 1937
    ...obstante veredicto could only be interposed by a plaintiff, but this rule appears to have been relaxed in the case of Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695, where, under the somewhat peculiar facts of that case, this remedy was held available to the defendant. It was also the rule at c......
  • H. E. Wolfe Const. Co. Inc. v. Ellison
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 3, 1936
    ...through the alleged agent mentioned in the declaration must necessarily mean that the agent was likewise not guilty. Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695. The contention that H. E. Wolfe Construction Company, Inc., is not liable as a matter of law means in substance that, although the......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Richardson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 15, 1934
    ...Florida R. Co., v. Dorsey, 59 Fla. 260, 52 So. 963; Atlantic Coast Line Ry. Co. v. Hamlett, 81 Fla. 872, 89 So. 337; Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695; Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Webb, 112 Fla. 449, 150 So. 741. The Florida statute was attacked as unconstitutional but upheld by ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Durst v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11629.)
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 10, 1924
    ...against the company other than as to acts alleged by the petitioner to have been negligent." In Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 699, 86 So. 695 (quoting syllabus by the court), it is said: "In a case brought against the director general * * * and a locomotive engineer, the servant of s......
  • Dudley v. Harrison, Mccready & Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 16, 1937
    ...obstante veredicto could only be interposed by a plaintiff, but this rule appears to have been relaxed in the case of Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695, where, under the somewhat peculiar facts of that case, this remedy was held available to the defendant. It was also the rule at c......
  • H. E. Wolfe Const. Co. Inc. v. Ellison
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 3, 1936
    ...through the alleged agent mentioned in the declaration must necessarily mean that the agent was likewise not guilty. Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695. The contention that H. E. Wolfe Construction Company, Inc., is not liable as a matter of law means in substance that, although the......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Richardson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 15, 1934
    ...Florida R. Co., v. Dorsey, 59 Fla. 260, 52 So. 963; Atlantic Coast Line Ry. Co. v. Hamlett, 81 Fla. 872, 89 So. 337; Williams v. Hines, 80 Fla. 690, 86 So. 695; Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Webb, 112 Fla. 449, 150 So. 741. The Florida statute was attacked as unconstitutional but upheld by ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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