Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Co. v. Landrum

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtWHITFIELD, C. J.
Citation89 Miss. 399,42 So. 675
PartiesYAZOO & MISSISSIPPI VALLEY RAILROAD COMPANY v. MALETHA LANDRUM
Decision Date28 January 1907

42 So. 675

89 Miss. 399

YAZOO & MISSISSIPPI VALLEY RAILROAD COMPANY
v.

MALETHA LANDRUM

Supreme Court of Mississippi

January 28, 1907


November, 1906

FROM the circuit court of Quitman county, HON. SAMUEL C. COOK, Judge.

Mrs. Maletha Landrum, who sued for the benefit of herself and her minor children, was the plaintiff in the court below; the railroad company, the appellant, was defendant there. From a judgment in plaintiff's favor the defendant appealed to the supreme court.

Appellee's declaration alleged that her son, Joseph Landrum, was killed as a result of his being struck by a running locomotive and cars of the railroad company, negligently operated by the company's employes, near the small station of Marks, in Quitman county. The appellant company having filed a motion for a bill of particulars as to the time of day when the injury occurred, what persons were present, and what circumstances the appellee relied on to show liability upon the company the appellee, in compliance with an order of court to that effect, filed a written statement that she did not know, and was unable, after diligent inquiry, to ascertain at what hour of the day the injury occurred, or what persons were present at the time of injury, or what locomotive or train caused the injury, or what the exact circumstances in regard to the injury were; but that deceased was found shortly after 8 o'clock at night lying on the west side of the main line of the company's track, with his feet toward and near the track, and with one of his feet crushed, his collar-bone broken and his skull fractured, and with the position of the body such as to clearly indicate that he had been struck by a running train. The appellant company thereupon, in addition to filing a plea of general issue, gave notice thereunder that it was not liable, inasmuch as the deceased was intoxicated and was a trespasser at the time of the injuries received which caused his death. On the trial the facts set forth in appellee's declaration and bill of particulars, above stated, were proved. There was no eye-witness to the circumstances causing the death. Appellee's claim of liability upon the part of the appellant company was based on Code 1892, § 1808 (brought forward and amended in Code 1906, § 1985), providing that "in all actions against railroad companies for damages done to persons or property, proof of injury inflicted by the running of the locomotives or cars of such company shall be prima facie evidence of want of reasonable skill and care on the part of the servants of the company in reference to such injury." The appellant company was unable to show the facts attending the injury. In proof of its contention that the deceased was at the time of injury a trespasser and intoxicated, a conductor and a fireman of the company testified that they saw the deceased a short while before the time he was found injured walking between the tracks, and the men who carried the injured and unconscious man from the tracks to a near-by hotel testified that they detected the odor of whiskey upon him. There was in addition testimony offered upon the part of the company to the effect that the injured man after having been brought to the hotel, during lapses of consciousness had, in response to questions, stated that he was trying to board a passing train when injured, but that it was too swift for him. The facts in connection with such statement of the deceased were, however, such that it was questionable whether the injured man knew what he was saying at the time. The court refused a peremptory instruction asked by the appellant company, and submitted the case to the jury under instructions which permitted the jury to decide whether the evidence offered by the railroad company was sufficient to overcome the statutory presumption of liability on the company. The jury awarded the appellee $ 8, 000 damages, and the railroad company appealed, claiming that it was entitled to a peremptory instruction under the facts shown.

Affirmed.

Mayes & Longstreet, and St. John Waddell, for appellant.

The peremptory instruction asked for by the appellant company should have been granted, as the facts in evidence disclosed no liability upon its part. It is not shown how the deceased, Joseph Landrum, was injured. It can only be presumed that, being out of work and hunting employment among the saw mills at or near Marks Station, and while under the influence of whiskey, he was tramping along the railroad, with no definite destination in view and no plan as to what he would do, that he arrived in the neighborhood of where he was hurt at about 8 o'clock on the evening of the accident. It is shown by the testimony of the plaintiff that the deceased was found in his injured condition in the night time, about an eighth of a mile south of the Marks Station depot on the railroad company's road-bed and between two of its tracks. No crossing was near. It was an unfrequented place, and one where he could not have been expected to be. If he was injured at all by appellant company's train or locomotive, he was injured while a trespasser, knowingly being in a dangerous place and in the night time.

A railroad company is entitled to a clear track, and individuals who use its track and road-bed as a thoroughfare are trespassers, to whom the railroad company in operating its trains owes no duty except to avoid injuring them willfully or wantonly. Unless willful or wanton negligence is shown on the part of the railroad company there can be no liability for injury to a trespasser. Railroad Co. v. Williams, 69 Miss. 631 (S.C., 12 So. 597); Morehead v. R. R. Co., 84 Miss. 112 (S.C., 36 So. 151); Christian v. Illinois Central R. R. Co., 71 Miss. 237 (15 So. 71); Railroad Company v. Stroud, 64 Miss. 784 (S.C., 2 So. 171).

The plaintiff, Mrs. Landrum, failed to show on the trial through the testimony of any of her witnesses that the deceased had been injured by the appellant company's train, except by the circumstances of where he was found and the condition of his injuries; and in showing such it appeared that the deceased was a trespasser on the roadbed of the appellant company, and that he was injured in the night time at a dangerous place when he could not readily have been seen by anyone in charge of a moving train. These circumstances placed the deceased in the category of a trespasser.

The trial judge in the court below construed Code 1892, § 1808, to be a statute of liability and not a mere statute of evidence. While this statute provides that proof of injury inflicted shall be prima facie evidence only of a want of reasonable skill and care in reference to the injury, his ruling was to the effect that although the circumstances surrounding the injury were fully shown, yet if there was no actual eye- witness of the injury this statute imposed liability, regardless of the circumstances. This ruling of the trial judge would exclude from contemplation the rule above cited with reference to the liability of a railroad company to an unseen trespasser upon its track. Such a construction was an erroneous view of law.

In addition to the facts stated as to the deceased being a trespasser, intoxicated, in a place dangerous even for a sober man to be, unseen by any of the company's employes, the evidence disclosed that the trains of the company passing such place prior to the injury were under perfect control and running at low rate of speed, in the hands of careful persons, and they could not have caused the injury. In view of these facts it was error in the court to hold that the above-mentioned statute should...

To continue reading

Request your trial
22 practice notes
  • Alabama Great Southern Ry. Co. v. Daniell, 16487
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 7, 1914
    ...61 So. 655; N. O., M. & C. R. R. Co. v. Cole, 101 Miss. 173; Railroad Company v. Brooks, 85 Miss. 275, 38 So. 40; Yazoo R. Co. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399, 42 So. 675; Easley v. Railroad Co., 96 Miss. 399, 50 So. 491; Railroad Co. v. Hunnicutt, 53 So. 617; Fuller v. R. R. Co., 56 So. 783; Rail......
  • Alabama & Alabama & Vicksburg Railway Co. v. Thornhill, 16,216
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 22, 1913
    ...939; 36 So. 155; 19 So. 661; 21 So. 108; 1 Miss. Dec. 317; 92 Miss. 532; 55 So. 40; 95 Miss. 41; 96 Miss. 28; 96 Miss. 396; 57 So. 557; 89 Miss. 399. Did the trial court err in granting instruction number 6 for plaintiff which directed the jury to disregard the parol testimony of witness Ha......
  • Allman v. Gulf & S. I. R. Co., 26927
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1928
    ...not rebutted. Railroad Co. v. Phillips, 64 Miss. 704, 2 So. 537; Railroad Co. v. Brooks, 85 Miss. 275, 38 So. 40; Railroad Co. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399, 42 So. 675; Mobile, etc., R. Co. v. Hicks, 91 Miss. 273, 46 So. 360; Railroad Co. v. Murray, 91 Miss. 546, 44 So. 785; Combs v. Railroad C......
  • Columbus & G. Ry. Co. v. Duease, 25483
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 8, 1926
    ...and flagman did not see anything. Therefore, the presumption prevails and the instruction is proper. See Y. & M. V. R. R. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399; Mobile, etc., R. R. v. Hicks, 91 Miss. 273; So. Ry. Co. v. Murray, 91 Miss. 546; Combs v. Mobile, etc., R. R. Co., 92 Miss. 532; Easley v. A. &......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Alabama Great Southern Ry. Co. v. Daniell, 16487
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 7, 1914
    ...61 So. 655; N. O., M. & C. R. R. Co. v. Cole, 101 Miss. 173; Railroad Company v. Brooks, 85 Miss. 275, 38 So. 40; Yazoo R. Co. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399, 42 So. 675; Easley v. Railroad Co., 96 Miss. 399, 50 So. 491; Railroad Co. v. Hunnicutt, 53 So. 617; Fuller v. R. R. Co., 56 So. 783; Rail......
  • Alabama & Alabama & Vicksburg Railway Co. v. Thornhill, 16,216
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 22, 1913
    ...939; 36 So. 155; 19 So. 661; 21 So. 108; 1 Miss. Dec. 317; 92 Miss. 532; 55 So. 40; 95 Miss. 41; 96 Miss. 28; 96 Miss. 396; 57 So. 557; 89 Miss. 399. Did the trial court err in granting instruction number 6 for plaintiff which directed the jury to disregard the parol testimony of witness Ha......
  • Allman v. Gulf & S. I. R. Co., 26927
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1928
    ...not rebutted. Railroad Co. v. Phillips, 64 Miss. 704, 2 So. 537; Railroad Co. v. Brooks, 85 Miss. 275, 38 So. 40; Railroad Co. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399, 42 So. 675; Mobile, etc., R. Co. v. Hicks, 91 Miss. 273, 46 So. 360; Railroad Co. v. Murray, 91 Miss. 546, 44 So. 785; Combs v. Railroad C......
  • Columbus & G. Ry. Co. v. Duease, 25483
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 8, 1926
    ...and flagman did not see anything. Therefore, the presumption prevails and the instruction is proper. See Y. & M. V. R. R. v. Landrum, 89 Miss. 399; Mobile, etc., R. R. v. Hicks, 91 Miss. 273; So. Ry. Co. v. Murray, 91 Miss. 546; Combs v. Mobile, etc., R. R. Co., 92 Miss. 532; Easley v. A. &......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT