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extent of business transacted at the station. If many passengers are to be taken on the trains, and many others are to be discharged, if much baggage, mail and express is to be handled by many employees, if the station grounds must be used at the time of the arrival of the trains by many persons having business there with the company, or with incoming or outgoing passengers, confusion and accident at night can be prevented only by the aid of a lighting system much more extensive than would be required under other circumstances." In other words and in brief, it is, of course, true that light which might be insufficient at one station might be adequate at a station surrounded by different conditions. But, in the cases cited, and some others similarly expounding the rule under consideration, it will be found that the injuries complained of were mostly received in going to or leaving the station and not in going on or leaving the passenger coaches. No one, however, can dispute the soundness or justness of the rule as thus declared by the cases here referred to as well as other cases not cited, where, as is manifestly so in those cases, the rule is properly applied; but, although it is true, as counsel for the defendant say, that the evidence here shows that the business, particularly the passenger traffic, transacted at the Calistoga station was generally very light (there was but one other passenger in the coach with Mrs. Teale when the train reached Calistoga the evening of the accident), still we see nothing in the rule as it is stated by the cases cited which in any way conflicts with the rule as first above stated in general terms, or, in other words, with the proposition, of the soundness of which there can be no doubt, that it is a duty legally incumbent upon common carriers to furnish sufficient light at night at their stations, whatever may be the extent and character of the traffic or businses generally transacted by them thereat, to enable the passengers going on or leaving their passenger trains in the nighttime to do so with safety, and that where they fail in that duty through causes over which they can exercise control, they are guilty of culpable negligence. In the case at bar, as we understand the description given by the plaintiff, Mrs. Teale, of the condition of the immediate surroundings of the point where she attempted to alight, there was at that time total darkness. Of course, she was entitled to sufficient light
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to enable her, by the exercise of proper care, to descend the steps from the platform of the coach to the ground. Such light she was clearly not furnished with. The defendant was negligent in not providing her with the requisite light, and it can make no difference, so far as is concerned the matter of tracing to its negligence in that regard responsibility for the accident and liability for the consequent damage, whether the condition as to light or darkness was due to its failure to maintain the requisite lights on the outside of the depot building at all, or, thus maintaining sufficient light under ordinary circumstances at that station, the reflection therefrom was so obstructed by the line of box-cars standing on the track ne..rest to the depot as that the light therefrom was prevented from reaching the point where the plaintiff attempted to descend from the car to the ground, and that, by reason thereof, it was too dark at said point to enable her to see the steps.
Nor do we think, as counsel for the defendant contend, that the rule applied in Holt v. Southeast Mo. E. R. Co., 84 Mo. App. 443, and approved in Cary v. Los Angeles Ry. Co., 157 Cal. 599, 605, [21 Ann. Cas. 1329, 27 L. R. A. (N. S.) 764, 108 Pac. 682, 684], is applicable to this case. The rule referred to is thus stated in the Missouri case mentioned: "A carrier of passengers is not obliged to proceed to provide against casualties which have not been known to occur before and which may not reasonably be anticipated. . . . That which never happened before and which in its character is such as not naturally to occur to prudent men to guard against its happening at all, cannot, when, in the course of years, it does happen, furnish good ground for charge of negligence in not foreseeing its happening and guarding against that remote contingency.” In both the Missouri and California cases adverted to and which apply the rule as thus declared, the torts complained of were committed under most unusual circumstances. In each case the accident happened on a crowded street car. In the Missouri case, as the plaintiff was in the act of stepping upon the front platform, where an unusually large number of persons had crowded themselves, the brake on the car became unfastened and, revolving rapidly around, struck her in the face, producing painful and serious injury. The motorman was at his post, and no one knew
how the brake became loosened, whether by the act of the plaintiff herself in taking hold of the brake when she was stepping upon the platform, as was one of the claims of the defendant, or by some one of the other passengers striking with his foot the mechanical applicance by which the motorman, with his foot, manipulated or operated the brake. In the California case, while the plaintiff was in the act of alighting from the car, another passenger, without the knowledge of the conductor, gave a signal to the motorman to start the car. The motorman, in obedience to such signal, started the car, with the result that the plaintiff was thrown violently to the ground and sustained serious injuries. Thus it is readily to be understood that the accidents producing the injuries in those cases were of so unusual a character that of them it cannot be said that they could reasonably be anticipated. In other words, accidents from such causes might not happen more than once in the allotted lifetime of man. They are causes against the occurrence of which the highest prudence or care could not uniformly operate as a guard, and it would indeed be an unjust rule which, in such a case, would authorize the presumption of negligence on the part of a common carrier from acts of that character. Whether such acts are traceable to the negligence of the defendant would depend upon whether the proof affirmatively disclosed that they were brought about directly through the carelessness or negligence of the defendant's employees, servants or agents, and in the cases referred to no such showing was made.
But no such situation as is found in those cases is present in the case at bar. In the first place, it may well be noted and borne in mind that the rule under consideration, as it is stated in the Missouri case, obviously does not mean that it is true under all circumstances that, because a particular accident has not been known to happen before, such accident is not of the character of those casualties which may “reasonably be anticipated” in the sense that it is a duty to exercise reasonable care in guarding against their occurrence. Particular accidents, under whatever circumstances they may occur, cannot, of course, be foreseen; but the character of a business may be such (and that of transportation companies is peculiarly so that it may reasonably be expected that, in its prosecution under certain conditions or circumstances,
accidents may happen at any time and personal injuries follow, and it is in such cases that the law imposes upon those carrying on such business the duty of furnishing as far as can reasonably be done, safeguards against accidents. As applied to railroad companies as common carriers, in the conduct of whose business, in the very nature of the case, accidents by which personal injuries are received are likely to happen even where such business, generally speaking, is carefully carried on, the rule simply means that they must use such reason. able means or adopt such reasonable precautionary measures as will properly safeguard those who do business with them at their stations and upon their trains. In brief, the rule may be stated to be that where, in the conduct of a certain business, it must be known that unusual or uncommon danger must necessarily coexist with certain conditions, which are capable of being controlled to a large extent by the use of reasonable and available means, the law will hold casualties resulting from an omission to so control such conditions as among those which could “reasonably be anticipated” and against the happening of which, therefore, it was the duty of the person conducting such business to adopt and enforce precautionary measures.
Of course, everybody knows the increased danger to life and limb at railroad stations when such places are enveloped in darkness or not equipped with sufficient artificial light after the light of day has disappeared to enable persons having business there to guide their footsteps over the ways provided there for that purpose. And everybody knows that the safety of passengers in going to and from such stations in the night-time or in entering and getting off trains stopping there at night can be preserved largely by means of sufficient light to enable them to find the proper means of ingress and egress therein and therefrom. The accident whereby Mrs. Teale received the injuries complained of here was one of that class which must reasonably be anticipated will occur as the result of omission on the part of a railroad company to provide the requisite or sufficient light at its station to permit passengers leaving its trains at night to do so with safety, and the failure of the defendant in this case to do so reasonable and at the same time so manifestly a necessary act as furnishing the plaintiff with light sufficient
to enable her, by the exercise of due care, to guide her feet down the steps from the coach to the ground constituted negli. gence.
The next and, so far as is concerned the claim that the evidence does not support the verdict, the last question to be determined, is whether the plaintiff, in alighting from the train, was herself guilty of negligence which constituted the proximate cause of her injuries, and, furthermore, whether she assumed the risk incident to her attempt to reach the ground from the platform of the coach under the circumstances as described by her.
The evidence, as before shown, does not disclose the exact or particular cause of the plaintiff's fall to the ground, and, therefore, unless it can be said, as the argument of the appellant goes, that, from the fact that the plaintiff attempted to leave the coach in the intense darkness of that night while she was engaged in carrying a small valise in one hand and a suitcase of ordinary size in the other, and, under those circumstances, undertook to guide herself down the steps from the coach to the ground by taking hold of the guard rail with her left instead of her right hand, she was guilty of contributory negligence, then it is very clear that that question was one for the decision of the jury and that the verdict forecloses the review thereof by this court.
But it cannot be held that the circumstances referred to show contributory negligence. The plaintiff had reached her destination, and, obviously, she had the right to leave the train, with her valise and suitcase, by the usual means of egress in such case, and she adopted those means for making her exit. Alth gh she was a woman well advanced in years, she was nevertheless in robust health, active, capable of performing and did perform, prior to the accident, the household duties for her family, and possessed excellent eyesight; and from these facts it is reasonable to infer that, under ordinary circumstances, she was capable of handling the small baggage she carried with her without any great inconvenience or trouble. She was thoroughly familiar with the ground about the depot and particularly in the immediate vicinity of the point where the coach in which she rode to Calistoga stopped on the occasion of the accident. She testified, as seen, that, before starting down the steps, she took