Answer: There had been two previous wrecks a short time before, and I think the ties had been
By Mr. Keith:
Q. The ties had been renewed previous to this accident? Answer – Yes, sir.
Q. How about the ballasting of the track between Bristow and the point of the wreck? Answer – I think it was ballasted, but I don’t know anything about the condition of the ballast.
Q. Will you say whether or not, from your knowledge, that track as in good condition or bad condition at the time of the wreck, between Bristow and the point of the wreck? Answer – It was in much better condition than I have seen it at other times.
Q. Was there anything wrong with that track between Bristow and the point of the wreck, so far as you know and so far as you observed? Answer – No, sir.
Q. And you have lived there for a great many years, and had an opportunity to observe the condition of the track? Answer – Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know whether or not it was raining on the night of the accident? Answer – No, sir, I do not. There was severe weather of some sort, but I don’t remember whether it was rain or snow, or what it was.
Q. Mr. Davis, you said that the child seemed to be all right sitting there with its father and mother; will you state whether or not you noticed anything about the child as indicating whether or not it had been hurt in this accident? Answer – No, sir, I didn’t notice anything.
Q. Was there anything indicating that the child was not only not hurt ----
Mr. Mackey: The child is not suing the railroad.
Court: I think Mr. Keith asked him that, and he said he didn’t notice anything wrong about it. Is that what you said?
Answer – I didn’t observe that it was hurt. Mrs. Halterman told me before we got there that her daughter, who had been to the hospital, was coming on that train, and she was very much alarmed, and after getting there and seeing the man and the lady and all sitting there I congratulated them on not being hurt, and I didn’t know that they were hurt, but, of course, I am no doctor, and I couldn’t tell anything. I was very glad to see that they escaped death, as it was a pretty narrow call for them.
By Mr. Mackey:
Q. In order that my question may not be leading, I will ask you whether Mr. Sullivan’s face looked happy or unhappy when you gazed on him in that car? Answer – I don’t think he looked overly pleased. As well as I remember he was crying.
Q. Would not conclude, because the baby was not hurt, that no one else was hurt, would you? Answer – I was very much gratified to find that they were not killed. I went there after Mrs. Halterman told me about them being on the train, and meeting them still alive and apparently unhurt I was very much pleased to see that they escaped. Of course there might have been injuries that I could not tell.
Q. You had no reason or no interest in that wreck, or anybody on that train, to make an investigation and determine whether any timbers had gone throw the window, or whether the train door was jammed down, etc,. you had no reason to investigate those matters? Answer – I didn’t notice anything of that kind. I was through the car quite frequently.
Q. You went there as a good Samaritan to help anybody you could? Answer – Yes, sir.
Q. You did not notice a front door jam about three feet long back in the car? Answer – No sir. I don’t say it was not there, but I didn’t see it. I don’t think the passenger car left the rails; at least all the trucks. I noticed this thing scouring on the rails from my home, because there was a wreck there a short time before, and it scattered cars along, and there were houses there, and I thought it was a pretty close call for those houses, and I watched this, and I watched to see if it would clear the station, and then I wished to see if it would clear the pump house, which it did not. I think this obstruction on the rail struck the switch going into the pump station about three and a half or four feet south of the frog.
Q. Which caused the wreck? Answer – Yes, sir; it seemed to become kinked where it led into the pump house, and my theory is when it come in contact with that it shoved the rail over and caused the rest of the cars to leave the northbound track and go to the other. One of these cars seemed to rear up – I was watching it – and fall over directly in front of the train 17, and they instantly cut off the light as quick as you could bat your eye. I think that was a carload of pig iron. I am not sure about it, but noticed after the wreck there was pig iron on both sides of the track.
Q. You are certain Mr. Sullivan did not cause this wreck?
Court: Mr. Mackey, what is the use of taking up time like that.
Mr. Keith: The question as to the condition of this track, as to the extent to which we must meet
any question as to the condition of the track, is one that is bound to come up in evidence that will go on from now on, probably. We think it is important to direct the court’s attention to what we think is the proper rule of evidence in respect to it, and out contention is this: The declaration is very general in its terms. It states practically a case where the accident occurred by reason of a collision, and nothing further; it simply states a bare case of res ipsa loquitur . Now, the question is, under a case of that sort, where there is not any specific allegation that the roadbed of the defendant was in improper condition, the question is to what extent must we show the good condition of the track? In other words, must we put on witnesses to show the good condition of that track from the point of wreck to Charlottesville, or from the point of wreck to Orange? Our contention is this, that where there is a bare allegation bringing the case merely on the ground of res ipsa loquitur, that the circumstances of the wreck show that there is negligence. Then, we must show our train was properly equipped and properly run, and did not negligently run into the other train. We must show our track was in good condition at the place of the wreck. If we show that, I think we have answered the requirements of the law. The question is how far we must show the good condition of our track. We called on the plaintiff for a bill of particulars, and here is what he saysreads bill of particulars). There is no charge in the declaration that our roadbed was in bad condition, generally. There is the case that we are called upon to meet there, the case of the plaintiff, and here is a decision I want to read your Honor upon it. (Reads decision and proceeds with argument)
Mr. A. T. Browning: We contend that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur does not apply to us.
Mr. Mackey: We admit that.
Court: Because you claim that he was not a passenger; is that the reason?
Mr. Mackey: Yes, sir. We claim, if your Honor please, that the doctrine does apply to the
Court: Because he is a passenger?
Mr. Mackey: Because he is a passenger, and the Southern Railway is liable for any negligence of
the lessee, but applying the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur it does not apply to the C&O.
Mr. A. T. Browning: They are undertaking to make a prima facie case of negligence against the
C&O by reason of the breakage of some portion of this truck. If they make out a case of the breakage of that truck, we think we are entitled to show the primary cause of that breakage, and if the primary cause of that breakage was the condition of a piece of track not within our control, it relieves us, and that is the purpose of this evidence.
Mr. George L. Browning: If your Honor please, this is a peculiar case, as your Honor has already
stated many times, and as it has appeared to attorneys at the bar, and, I imagine, to on-lookers. Your Honor is advised that there is a special situation between the two defendants. Your Honor will realize that a ruling by your Honor that would take away the right of either of these defendants to make such a defense as it may think it has a right to make under the law and under the conditions, would be pretty hard on that defendant. I do not mean to suggest to your Honor, and I know your Honor will give it thought, but it is a peculiar case, and it is a different case. In consideration this question, I want to call your Honor’s attention to this fact, that the plaintiff called upon the defendant the Southern Railway Company to file its grounds of defense. That was brought about by the fact the Southern Railway Company asked the plaintiff to file a bill of particulars. Then the plaintiff called upon the Southern railway Company to file its grounds of defense. Now, if your Honor will look at the grounds of defense filed by the Southern Railway Company, it makes one of the grounds, the specific ground is this, that the Southern Railway Company is not liable to the plaintiff; that if anybody is liable to the plaintiff it is the C&O Railway Company because of the negligence of the C&O Railway Company. That is the first step in this case showing or emphasizing the position of one of the defendants that the other party is negligent and liable here. That was not exactly the first step because the Southern Railway called upon the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company to come forward and fight this case for them, and your Honor entered an order to that effect. Now, that ground of defense given to the jury, that they are not negligent, and if anybody is negligent it is the C&O Railway Company, and the plaintiff must go after the C&O Railway Company, and counsel for the Southern Railway Company, in its opening statement, before the defendant, C&O Railway Company, had had any opportunity to say anything, or take any position, one way or the other, counsel for the Southern Railway Company told the jury that this matter of track is going to be brought in here by the C&O Railway Company, and that they expected to prove that the track was in perfect condition, and that they had spent time and money upon getting it in good condition. That was brought into this case by the Attorney for the Southern Railway Company in his opening statement to the jury, and made a part of this case, so far as an opening statement can be a part of it, and now, when they tell the plaintiff that we are guilty of negligence and at the same time undertake to have this court take away from us a legitimate defense, it would be absolutely harsh, in our view of this case, and would leave us with the bag to hold, and no way to get out of it. (Reads sections four and six of grounds of defense). Then, following up these grounds of defense, the Southern Railway Company opens its case by pointing to the jury, in answering the plaintiff’s case, that the C&O Railway Company was going to undertake to get out of this thing by show case, that the C&O Railway Company was going to undertake to get out of this thing by showing the Southern Railway track was bad, and they were going to prove that it was good.
Court: I want to ask one or two questions for the enlightenment of the court. This is a suit brought
by Mr. Sullivan against these two roads, and they have set out in their declaration that this track was defective at the place of accident. If I hold you can go beyond, and that either side can show the condition of the track beyond, and I commit error, who would be the sufferer? Would it be Mr. Sullivan? The court would say, “You ought to confine evidence to the declaration of the plaintiff”. Would the plaintiff be the innocent sufferer? On the other hand, Mr. Browning very properly said that you gentlemen have stated in your opening (referring to counsel for Southern Railway Company) that your allegation would be that it was a proper track.
Mr. Keith: So far as we were impleaded.
Court: Don’t it mean so far as the plaintiff has impleaded or put that matter in issue, to-wit:
Where this accident occurred? If you were to undertake to inquire into the track all the way- they are attacking the track only at the place of accident – would you have to start at Orange and follow it down? If a judgment was obtained against the C&O, would not the C&O remedy be to afterwards bring suit against the Southern by way of recoupment, and say that these people only confined their investigation to the place of accident? The fact that the railroad was in good condition at the place of accident we have nothing to do with what happened out near Charlottesville. I do not want to commit myself; would not that be a question which you railroads would have to adjust afterwards? I am asking for information, and I want your response as to that. If I make an error in permitting these gentlemen to go and inquire into the condition of the track all the way from Orange Court House down to the place, they would be innocent sufferers. Would not the court say. “You gentlemen must respond to the allegations of the declaration, to wit: That the track was in bad condition where the accident occurred? I say it is a very peculiar case. It strikes me that the fair inquiry here is what is set out in that declaration. That is the issue, to-wit: That it was an accident caused by the negligence of the C&O Railway by breakage of a certain bar – I believe that they call it an arch-bar, and on the Southern Railway for two reasons, first, that they were responsible for what you gentlemen did, that they permitted you to run over that track, and because they had a bad track. Now, is that the issue? If it is, how could I lengthen it in this suit by attempting to adjust the conditions between the two railroads? I wish you had settled it before you came in here. Now, you are bumping your heads against each other. If this man has a claim against either one of you, I want to help him out --------
Mr. Mackey: Will your Honor allow me a minute, because we would be the goat in this case if
the Court of Appeals found error in this record.
Court: They would, because the plaintiff has not said a word about the track beyond where the
Mr. Mackey: I want to read the bill of particulars and the amended declaration. (Reads same); it
confines it to that neighborhood.
Court: If this arch-bar broke at Catlett, and I would go up there, would not you lose your
Mr. Mackey: It seems to me so. The theory of the C&O Railway is the bumping and thumping
and rough choppy track before you get to Bristow somewhere caused this arch-bar to become loose. It would be a great burden on the defense if that were true to our side. Now as an incident to this case, the defendant, Southern Railway Company, has come in here in open court and called upon the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway to answer and defend this suit against them under the decision of Supreme Court of the United States.
Court: We are trying three cases here: The first issue is, “Are you entitled to recover?” If, so,
then against which company? I do not understand just exactly where I am. It looks to me that the issue is the condition of the track where the accident occurred, but if I let you gentlemen settle it between you, would I sacrifice the other?
Mr. Mackey: We are not concerned except -----
Court: (Interrupting) Except you do not want to lose your judgment.
Mr. Mackey: No, sir, and there is another reason: There would be no end to the controversy if we
had to go over thirty, forty or fifty miles to find the choppy track. It is purely speculative. We could not come down to the proximate cause of this accident. The immediate and proximate cause of this accident was an arch-bar catching in a rail or something, and derailing the train. There was a causal connection between the choppy track, but the law rules out causal connection in this case. There was a causal connection with the iron mines which made the rails, but the law would not permit it.
Mr. A. T. Browning: The first question was as to the prejudicing the rights of the plaintiff against
the rights of both of the defendants. Upon that I do not think the plaintiff can be prejudiced. In the first place, if he gets a judgment against both defendants, he would have to get it as joint tort feasors. It would not mean, necessarily, upon both; of, if this court should change the judgment, that that judgment would not be effective against the other joint tort feasor.
Court: You see if I commit error that is prejudicial -----
Mr. Browning: I have not gotten to that point. Suppose your Honor does admit evidence that is
prejudicial; suppose that evidence is introduced by the defendant over the objection of the plaintiff, then the defendant cannot complain of it. I think that is the answer to that. Suppose we introduce this particular evidence; suppose this plaintiff objects to that evidence, we cannot go to the Court of Appeals or anywhere else, and say because that evidence is prejudicial it must be upset, and if they get a judgment certainly they will not complain of it if they object to its introduction.
Court: Suppose they object, and these gentlemen object, and I admit it, and they get a judgment
against the Southern, the Court certainly is not going to turn around and switch that judgment on your company, because if I make an error the result would be it would come back here for trial.
Mr. Browning: I suppose it would.
Court: Suppose, on the other hand, I refuse to admit that question and judgment is gotten against
you alone, wouldn’t it have to come back here for trial?
Mr. Browning: I think it would.
Court: Then, to use Mr. Mackey’s slang expression, wouldn’t they be the goat?
Mr. Browning: If it is legitimate evidence, and your Honor refused it -----
Court: If it is legitimate I would not refuse it.
Mr. Browning: If it is legitimate, and your Honor refused it, then, they would be in the same
Court: Then I would say it is your mistake, and you had no right to object.
Mr. Browning: The effect of the court’s ruling is not the subject of inquiry, but it is whether the
evidence is legitimate evidence. We submit on the pleadings in this case that it is. Mr. Mackey has arisen and undertook to argue as an expert what was the cause of the accident is the subject of inquiry. They have impleaded us both. Mr. Mackey says you can go back one hundred yards. He did not state any definite place, but you cannot go away from the scene of the accident to find its cause. We say that it is a matter of common, practical knowledge that derailments ordinarily do not occur right at the very point where the car jumps the track; that certainly a reasonable distance from there it may be looked for. If there is an obstacle right there on the track, and the train hits that obstacle, and don’t break something, and runs one hundred yards and then jumps the track, or half a mile, or three-quarters of a mile, but in the nature of trains a reasonable distance from it is the place within the scope of the place of accident.
Court: What is a reasonable distance, do you think?