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Vol. I.)

IN RE JULIA LYONS.

(No. 4.

the front wheel ran over his foot, causing the injury of which he complains. There was a crossing in the street where he desired to get off.

In view of the plaintiff's age, we think this evidence should have been submitted to the jury; the jury should have determined whether the plaintiff had been guilty of negligence ; he should be held to the exercise of that degree of care and discretion ordinarily to be expected of a child of his age, neither more or less. Smith v. O'Conner, supra. So in regard to the defendant's alleged negligence. The fact that the plaintiff was suffered to stand upon and get off from the front platform, and whether the defendant exercised proper care under all the circumstances, in not sooner stopping the car, should have been submitted to the jury. It is the duty of a railway company to cause its cars to come to a full stop, to permit a passenger to get off. Whether the defendant properly discharged his duty with a due regard to the age of the plaintiff

, and of notice of plaintiff's desire to leave the car, should have been left to the jury. We think the learned judge erred in directing that the verdict should be for the defendant. The errors are sustained.

Judgment reversed, and a venire facias de novo awarded.

DISTRICT COURT OF THE U. S. - DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.

[JANUARY, 1874.]

MARRJED WOMEN MAY BE ADJUDGED BANKRUPT.

IN RE JULIA LYONS.

In a state whose statute law makes a married woman living apart from her husband

liable to be sued as if sole, she may be adjudged bankrupt.

W. H. Fifield, for petitioning creditors.
Whiting $ Napthaly, for respondent.

HOFFMAN, District Judge. The question raised by the demurrer in this case is, whether the respondent, being a married woman, is liable on a contract to pay rent, and, if she has committed an act of bankruptcy, can be adjudged bankrupt. It appears that the husband of the respondent has long since renounced and abandoned all his marital rights and duties. For twelve years Mrs. Lyons has lived separate and apart from him, supporting herself and her minor children by her own exertions. In the course of her business as keeper of a lodging-house, she has contracted an indebtedness for rent, and being so indebted, and in contemplation of bankruptcy and insolvency, has made, as is alleged, an assignment of her property in fraud of the bankrupt act.

It is urged by the respondent's counsel that the contract of a married woman for the payment of money is void, and that the petitioning creditor has no debt which the court can recognize. On this point numerous authorities are cited ; but as they, for the most part, are decisions under the

Vol. 1.)

IN RE JULIA Lyons.

(No. 4.

act of April 17, 1850, and the amended act of May 12, 1862, no examination of them is necessary. The decision of the question before us turns upon the force and effect to be given to the act of March 9, 1870. Laws of 1870, p. 226.

The first three sections of that act are as follows Section 1. “ The earnings of the wife shall not be liable for the debts of the husband.” Section 2. “The earnings and accumulations of the wife and her minor children living with her, or being in her custody, while the wife is living separate and apart from her husband, shall be the separate property of the wife.” Section 3. “ The wife, while living separate and apart from her husband, shall have the sole and exclusive control of her separate property, and may sue and be sued without joining her husband, and may avail herself of, and be subject to, all legal process in all actions, including actions concerning her real estate.” The fourth section prescribes the mode in which she may convey her real estate.

The object of these enactments is apparent. It was to secure to the wife, when abandoned by her husband, the fruits of her own industry, and to enable her to support herself and her children out of her

earnings and accumulations, free from his interference or molestation. For this purpose her earnings and accumulations, which at common law belonged to her husband, are declared her separate property, and her rights in respect of such property are carefully defined. She is to have the sole and exclusive control of it; she may separately sue or be sued, and may avail herself of and be subject to all legal process in all actions. That the principal intention of the legislature was to protect deserted wives in their just rights, and not to impose upon them additional liabilities, is admitted. For this purpose they were placed in the position of quasi femes sole, and were granted all the powers necessary to enable them to earn their own livelihood, and to retain and enjoy the fruits of their industry. But to accomplish this object, it was evidently necessary to create new liabilities as well as to confer new rights. The ability to sue for moneys earned by or due to her was clearly indispensable to enable the wife to attain the object contemplated by the law.

Justice and reason, and even her own interests, demanded that she should herself be liable for all debts contracted by her. For without such liability how could she obtain the credits usually necessary in the conduct of any business; and what could be said of the morality of a law which should announce to a woman that for all debts and demands due her she shall have the right to sue and enforce payment, but as to debts due by her she may plead her coverture as a conclusive bar to the action ?

The separate property of a married woman has, on general principles of equity, been held liable for debts contracted in respect to it or in and about its management and improvement. The act of 1870 created a new species of separate property in the earnings and accumulations of the wife while separated from her husband.

The equitable principles already adopted by the courts, and usually enforced by statute, required this new species of separate property should be liable for debts incurred in its creation or management, and in the course of the business, the proceeds of which the statute enables the wife exclu

Vol. I.)

The PHILADELPHIA AND READING RAILROAD Co. v. Long.

(No. 4.

sively to enjoy. Further discussion, however, is needless, as the language of the act is too explicit to be mistaken. It enacts that the wife separated from the husband may sue and be sued, and that she shall be subject to all legal process in all actions." This language is obviously inconsistent with any exemption from liability to suit for a just debt on the pretext that, being a married woman, her contracts for the payment of money are void.

The respondent being thus found to have incurred a valid indebtedness and a liability to be sued therefor as if a feme sole, she may, if she has committed an act of bankruptcy, be adjudged a bankrupt. Hilliard on Bankruptcy, p. 49; Avery & Hobbs on Bankruptcy, pp. 33–4; In re Kinkead, 7 N. B. R. p. 439.

The demurrer is overruled and the respondent allowed ten days to answer the petition.

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA.

· [FEBRUARY, 1874.]

NEGLIGENCE A QUESTION OF FACT. CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE OF

CHILD.

THE PHILADELPHIA AND READING R. R. CO. v. LONG.

Whether the engineer of a railroad runs his engine at a proper rate of speed, and

keeps a proper lookout, the facts being in dispute, is a question for the jury. A mother who takes reasonable care, under the circumstances, of an infant child, is

not guilty of negligence.

OPINION delivered by

AGNEW, C. J. This case has been argued by the eminent counsel of the railroad company as if the facts were fixed with the certainty of a special verdict. If we assume that the child, Rosanna Long, suddenly appeared upon the track, five or six feet ahead of the locomotive on the left hand side ; that the engineer was in his proper place on the right side of the engine cab, looking out constantly, but his vision, for several feet in front of the cow-catcher, was obstructed by the boiler and carriage of the engine; and that the fireman was at his post ringing the bell, and unable to keep a lookout on the left hand side of the engine ; we might conclude that the death of the child was an accident not within the power of the engineer to avoid, and that the court might have given a binding instruction to the jury. Then, indeed, the rate of speed would be immaterial, for, upon such a sudden appearance of the child on the track, no rate of speed, no matter how slow, could have saved it. But it was because these facts were not so fixed and certain, that the question of negligence must necessarily go to the jury, to ascertain exactly how they were ; and for the same reason the rate of speed became an element properly longing to the case. Only two witnesses saw the accident happen. One

Vol. I.]

THE PHILADELPHIA AND READING RAILROAD Co. v. Long.

[No. 4.

for he says,

of them, S. A. Moore, coming out of an alley into Cotton Street, which crosses Cresson Street and the railroad track at right angles, saw the child and the locomotive at the same instant, at the crossing. To him the sight and the accident were simultaneous, so that his testimony gives us no information of the previous position of the child while the train was moving up Cresson from Gay Street to Cotton. The other witness, Benjamin Levering, saw more. He crossed Cresson at Cotton Street; saw the engine coming. Saw it when it left the depot at Gay Street. The child was then on the

upper

side of the road; after crossing, he himself turned up Cresson Street, and in doing this turned his back upon the child;

“ Just as I turned round the child went on the track, and the cow-catcher struck her, the train then going over eight miles an hour.” In his cross-examination he says, when he got opposite to the store at the upper corner of Cotton Street, the child was then on the side of Mr. Long's house, and when he got over, the child was between the tracks. Thus it is very evident the testimony of this, the only witness who saw the child before the train reached Cotton Street, left it an open question of fact where the child was, and whether she was not visible to the en. gineer had he kept a constant lookout while the train was moving up Cresson Street, before it reached Cotton Street, and whether a slower rate of speed would not have enabled the engineer to discover the child, as well as to reverse his engine before it came upon her. Two of the witnesses testify the speed to have been not less than eight miles an hour, and Levering gives as a reason for his belief, that he had lived there all his lifetime, and of course was in the habit of judging of the speed. Thus it is evident that the position of the child while the train was moving up Cresson Street, the lookout of the engineer, the place of the fireman, the rate of speed, and all the circumstances, were matters entering into the question of negligence, taken into connection, also, with the allimportant fact that Manayunk is a closely built, populous town, Cresson Street a public thoroughfare, not of great width, where many persons of all ages, sexes, and conditions are constantly passing and repassing, and crossing the tracks of the railroad rightfully. It was, therefore, clearly the province of the jury to ascertain from the evidence the true position of the child while the train was moving up Cresson Street, when and how far the engineer ought to have seen the child in advance of the locomotive, and whether he was keeping a due lookout, and a properly regulated rate of speed, in traversing à populous street. It was in view of this duty of the jury, the instructions of the judge, contained in the first three assignments of error, were apposite and correct. We disagree emphatically to the position taken by the learned counsel of the railroad company that the rate of speed at the time was not material, and that seven or eight miles an hour is a rate of speed compatible with safety in passing through the streets of a populous town. While it is true that trains must be run at a high rate of speed to reach their greatest utility, populous towns and cities must be exceptions, when the speed must be moderated in view of the danger to life, limb, and property. Where the people and the trains have a common right to be, and to have a joint use of the highway, the rights of each must be regarded. These remarks dispose of the first three assignments of error.

Vol. I.)

Tue PHILADELPHIA AND READING RAILROAD Co. v. LONG.

(No. 4.

There can be no just complaint against that part of the charge recited in the fourth assignment. It does not contradict the answer to the defendant's fourth point. The learned judge affirmed all his points, including the fourth, stating that it is negligence and would prevent a recovery for parents to suffer an infant less than two years and two months old to wander upon a railroad track when trains are constantly passing. In that part of the charge recited in the fourth assignment, the judge said, " That the fact that the child is found in the street affords a strong presumption of negligence on the part of the plaintiffs. You will, therefore, consider whether

the mother took reasonable care of the child ; if she did not, it was negligence." To suffer a child to wander on the street has the sense of permit. If such permission or sufferance exist it is negligence. This is the assertion of a principle. But whether the mother did suffer the child to wander is a matter of fact, and is the subject of evidence, and this must depend upon the care she took of her child. Such care must be reasonable care dependent on the circumstances. This is a fact for the jury. If she did not exercise this care she was negligent. What more than this can be demanded of her ? When a railroad runs through a populous city, has the company a right to exact a harder measure, and are we to say, as a matter of law, that the citizens are to be imprisoned in their houses, or their children caged like birds, otherwise it is negligence? Is it negligence for the poor who congregate these crowded streets, unless, even in the summer's heat, they live shut up in the noisome vapors of their closed tenements, without a breath of healthy air ? In this the life they must lead or be adjudged to be negligent? This mother gave her child a piece of bread, to satisfy it, closed the kitchen door to keep it in, and went to the next room to scrub the oil cloth on the floor, and before her labor was finished, and in less than five minutes, the mangled body of her little one was brought in and laid before her. We have no reason to believe that her love for her child was less than that of the more favored of her sex, having servants at their beck. Because the child managed lift the latch and momentarily disappeared, are we to say this was negligence per se, and that she suffered her child to wander into the street ? What sort of justice is that which tells the mother agonizing over her dying child, “ Your negligence caused this. You suffered your child to run into the jaws of death. We cannot perceive any fault in the railroad company. A speed of eight miles an hour along this populous thoroughfare was all right.” We can indorse no such cruel doctrine ; but we must say, as was said in Kay v. Railroad Company, the doctrine which imputes negligence to a parent in such a case is repulsive to our natural instincts, and repugnant to the condition of that class of persons who have to maintain life by daily toil. 15 P. F. Smith, 276. The judgment is affirmed.

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