Wright v. Shedd, No. 275

Docket NºNo. 275
Citation122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240
Case DateJanuary 02, 1962
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 240

177 A.2d 240
122 Vt. 475
Raymond W. WRIGHT, Phyllis P. Wright
v.
John SHEDD, Juanita Shedd, United Farmers of New England, Trustee.
No. 275.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
Jan. 2, 1962.

Page 241

[122 Vt. 476] Reginald T. Abare, Barre, for plaintiffs.

John A. Swainbank, St. Johnsbury, for defendants.

Before [122 Vt. 475] HULBURD, C. J., and HOLDEN, SHANGRAW, BARNEY and SMITH, JJ.

[122 Vt. 476] HOLDEN, Justice.

An automobile owned by the plaintiffs was substantially damaged when the operator sought to avoid collision with the defendants' horse. The horse was wandering at large on a public highway at night. The trial court granted the defendants' motion, for a directed verdict at the close of the plaintiffs' case. With this disposition of the issue of liability, the question of contributory negligence was never reached. The plaintiffs appeal.

The accident happened in Fairfax at about nine-thirty on the evening of December 2, 1960 as the plaintiffs were traveling south on state highway #104 in a 1957 Dodge station wagon that was operated by their son. The car had rounded a slight curve and was about to meet a car approaching them from the opposite direction. Just as the vehicles had passed, two horses appeared in the roadway ahead. One horse stood directly across the southbound lane of travel. The operator turned suddenly to the left to avoid collision. In swerving to the left, the vehicle had nearly cleared the obstacle but the right rear fender came in contact with the animal's shoulder and chest. The car was thrust further to the left, off the edge of the highway, and rolled over an embankment.

Directly after the accident the defendant John Shedd arrived at the scene. With the aid of the plaintiff and the occupants of another vehicle the defendant rounded up the horses and drove them across the road, into an adjacent pasture on the defendants' farm.

The gate was found open immediately after the accident. It consisted of an unframed section of wire fencing. At one extremity of this section, the truncated ends of the horizontal strands of wire were threaded through the eye of staples, driven into a fence post to accomplish the fastening of the gate. It was about two and one-half feet in height and the fence line no more than twelve feet from the edge of the highway.

Soon after the defendant had reached the site of the accident, the plaintiff Raymond Wright asked him if he owned the horses. The defendant replied he did not--that they belonged to a neighbor. Later Wright asked the defendant to help him locate the owner. The defendant answered that he did not know who owned them. As the two were about to start out to ascertain the owner, the defendant admitted [122 Vt. 477] the horses belonged to him, stating he had falsely denied ownership in the first instance because he was 'scared.' Later at a physician's office, where some of the passengers were taken for treatment, the defendant told those present that he felt badly about the accident, and realized that he would have to

Page 242

settle. Later on that evening, the defendant acknowledged liability and told the plaintiff to take the car to a certain shop in St. Johnsbury and have the vehicle repaired and that he would pay for it.

At the time of granting the defendants' motion the trial court explained that there was no evidence to show (1) how the horses came to be on the highway, (2) that the defendants knew or should have known of their presence there, (3) or that they were there in the road through any negligence on the part of the defendants. In reaching this result, the trial court was required to assume the truth of the facts that had been presented at this stage of the trial, for only the jury had the right to pass on the credibility and weight of the testimony. F. I. Somers & Sons, Inc. v. LeClerc, 110 Vt. 408, 411, 8 A.2d 663, 124 A.L.R. 1494. So too, if the evidence given is capable of conflicting inferences, a question develops which the jury must settle upon proper instructions. O'Brien v. Dewey, 120 Vt. 340, 346, 143 A.2d 130; Perkins v. Vt. Hydro-Electric Corp., 106 Vt. 367, 399, 177 A. 631.

Our question is this: Are the facts which appeared unanswered at the conclusion of the plaintiffs' case sufficient to justify men of ordinary reason and fairness in affirming negligence?

We find no error in discharging the defendant Juanita Shedd from liability. Although she was joined as a principal defendant, there is nothing in the evidence to connect...

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10 practice notes
  • Deveneau v. Wielt, No. 14–330.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 4, 2016
    ...this case presents an issue of first impression, our decision in Wright v. Shedd provides a solid foundation for our analysis here. 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240 (1962). In Wright, a horse owned by Shedd wandered onto a road and was struck by a vehicle driven by plaintiff, resulting in injuries......
  • Doyle v. Exxon Corp., Nos. 1010
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 10, 1979
    ...L.Ed. 73 (1947); Forcier v. Grand Union Stores, Inc., supra; Dodge v. McArthur, 126 Vt. 81, 84, 223 A.2d 453, 455 (1966); Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 477, 177 A.2d 240, 243 Page 49 III Exxon's final contention is that the district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the defens......
  • Grubb v. Wolfe, No. 7728
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • December 13, 1965
    ...and our present day needs and circumstances. We are impressed with the correctness of the following which we quote from Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240, '* * * Under modern traffic conditions the peril to persons lawfully traveling the public thoroughfares by motor vehicle is sub......
  • Brauner v. Peterson, No. 1728--III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 15, 1976
    ...creates a permissible inference that the owner was negligent; Vaclavicek v. Olejarz, 61 N.J. 581, 297 A.2d 3 (1972); Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240 (1962); Ritchie v. Schaefer, 254 Iowa 1107, 120 N.W.2d 444 (1963); (2) the rule of res ipsa loquitur allows the trier of fact to in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Deveneau v. Wielt, No. 14–330.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 4, 2016
    ...this case presents an issue of first impression, our decision in Wright v. Shedd provides a solid foundation for our analysis here. 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240 (1962). In Wright, a horse owned by Shedd wandered onto a road and was struck by a vehicle driven by plaintiff, resulting in injuries......
  • Doyle v. Exxon Corp., Nos. 1010
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 10, 1979
    ...L.Ed. 73 (1947); Forcier v. Grand Union Stores, Inc., supra; Dodge v. McArthur, 126 Vt. 81, 84, 223 A.2d 453, 455 (1966); Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 477, 177 A.2d 240, 243 Page 49 III Exxon's final contention is that the district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the defens......
  • Grubb v. Wolfe, No. 7728
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • December 13, 1965
    ...and our present day needs and circumstances. We are impressed with the correctness of the following which we quote from Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240, '* * * Under modern traffic conditions the peril to persons lawfully traveling the public thoroughfares by motor vehicle is sub......
  • Brauner v. Peterson, No. 1728--III
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 15, 1976
    ...creates a permissible inference that the owner was negligent; Vaclavicek v. Olejarz, 61 N.J. 581, 297 A.2d 3 (1972); Wright v. Shedd, 122 Vt. 475, 177 A.2d 240 (1962); Ritchie v. Schaefer, 254 Iowa 1107, 120 N.W.2d 444 (1963); (2) the rule of res ipsa loquitur allows the trier of fact to in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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