Francis H. (Francis Hermann) Bohlen.

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result. Was death in this case- a. remote consequence of the
collision , or wa s jt, aiL_effecLactiyely_produced_b^^ ? A similar
"questron has often been considered under policies of life insurance
which except from the terms of the contract cases of death by sui-
cide or by the hand of the assured. The decisions upon/this ques-
tion are conflicting. All agree that death self-caused is^9" uncon-
trollable frenzy, without knowledge or appreciation of trie physical
nature of the act, would not be death by suicide or by one's own
hand within the meaning of such a provision in a policy. Some
judges make a distinction between death by one's own hand and
death by suicide; but most judges consider the language in either
form as meaning death by one's own act. Some courts hold that if
death is the result of volition by one who has a conscious purpose
to end his life, and has intelligence to adapt means to ends, it is his

^The Reporter's statement of the facts and a portion of the opinion are

DANIELS v. N. Y., N. H. & 11 . R. R. CO. 277

own act within the meaning of such a contract, even though he is so
far insane as not to be morally responsible for his conduct. That
is the doctrine of this court as stated in Dean v. American Ins. Co.,
4 Allen, 96, and in Cooper v. Massachusetts Ins. Co., 102 Mass.
227, following Borradaile v. Hunter, 5 M. & G. 639, and Clift. v.
Schii'abc, 3 C. B. 437. The same doctrine has been laid down as the
true rule by several other American courts. On the other hand, the
Court of Appeals of New York and the Supreme Court of the
United States and some other courts, hold that if one, by reason of
his insanity, is unable to appreciate the nature and qualities of his
own act in its relations to the moral w^orld, so that he is not crimi-
nally responsible for it, he docs not commit suicide or cause death
by his own hand within the meaning of such a policy, if he delib-
erately and wilfully takes his own life. Breasted v. Farmers' Loan
& Trust Co., 4 Seld. 299; Life Ins. Co. v. Terry, 15 Wall. 580;
Manhattan Ins. Co. v. Broughton, 109 U. S. 121. The question is
not precisely the same in these cases as in the case now before us.
The question in such policies is. What did the parties mean by their
language, and some courts have invoked the principle that the lan-
guage should be interpreted most strongly against the insurer who
used it. In the present case the question is, What is meant by the
language of the statute in reference to a death that occurs a long
time after the collision, from direct causes which come into exist-
ence and take form after the lapse of weeks, or months, or possibly
years, although they may be traced back to the collision as a first
cause. In interpreting the present statute in reference to such facts,
the question is not exactly whether the insane person who takes his
life dies by his own hand or commits suicide; it is whether the act
of volition, the wilful, deliberate purpose to take his life, when put
in execution, is to be treated as an independent, direct and proximate
cause of the death, notwithstanding that he was so far insane as to
be unable fully to comprehend the moral quality of his act. In a
condition such as is here supposed, the injury has caused mental
disease which has weakened the forces that hold one in check and
restrain him from acts of violence, and that enable him to appreciate
the reasons for not interfering with the natural laws of his being.
Very likely the disease also causes him extreme suffering, and de-
prives him' of the pleasures of life, and thus exposes him to great
temptation from which he would be free if in good health. In this
w^eakened and wretched condition, lacking a sound mind to guide
him morallv. but still having powers which enable him to know what
he thinks he wants to do and how to do it, by an action of volition.
he chooses to die, and thereupon takes his own life. It may be said
that he is forced to the deed by his disordered faculties. Some
contend that we are all slaves of destiny. Our subject brings us
near to the vexed theological problem as to free will and predesti-
nation. Without attempting to pursue these inquiries too far. we
are of opinion that jli£_:^^nlnntary, '^-jlfnl n^«- ^f '^nirido of ^th in^,-^np
pe rson. Nvlio s e mTanity was caused by a railroad accident, and \vhn_
kriows the purpose and the physical effect of his act, is £iidLa^new

278 DANIELS V. N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R. CO.

and indepe ndent agency as does not come w i thin_aiiil-C6mpkt£-^ a
'Ti ne of c ausjnQnJ^mJbe ar.ri^enl_to]fe e deathT^

Suppose, under such conditions, one of an aggressive and irri-
table disposition should take the life of another person, when, if his
mind had not been weakened by the disease, he would have held
himself in control, w^ould it be said that the life of the other was
lost by the collision on the railroad? Insanity is often a permanent
condition of mind, lasting many years, and it calls for care and
often for restraint of the insane person. Would suicide or the
homicide of another person resulting from such conditions, after
the expiration of many years, be held to be caused by the collision,
within the meaning of this statute, if the insanity was the efifect of
a collision?

We are of opinion that the principal reasons which induced the
decisions in the first class of cases under insurance policies, to which
we have referred, are still stronger to compel a decision that a de-
fendant is not liable under this statute for a death such as we have
supposed. Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States, which
holds that an insane person who takes his own life does not die by
his own hand within the meaning of the words in the insurance
policies, has decided unanimously in Scheffer v. Railroad Co., 105
U. S. 249, that the representative of a person who was injured in a
railroad accident, and took his own life while insane about eight
months atferwards, could not recover under a statute like that now
before us, by showing that his insanity w^as caused by the accident.^
We are satisfied with the conclusions reached in Dean v. American
Ins. Co. and Cooper v. Massachusetts his. Co., nbi supra; and under
this statute, involving different but similar considerations, we are of
opinion that th e liability of a defendant for a death by suicide ex ists
___QIily_adie n the "de at h is the" re£iill_o£_anuncon trolla bl e impuiseTor
]]jsjLccomplishe d_ m^elirium""orfrenzyTaliy d;^^

■^yjfhr ^ rnnQri?;TTr T olition to producc death, having "knowledge o f

"iHejhyslcal nature amL£onsequences_ of the actT" An act of suicide

"T^esultmg from a moderatelylntelligent power of choice, even though

the choice is determined by a_ disordered mind, should Jbe_deemed a

n^^y^ H inrlpppnHpnt ^^effi cieirrcause ot the "dgSth'ttTarmimed iately

. ensiip'^ We are of opinion that the term ''rational volition," used

in the charge, w^as understood by the jury to mean volition attended

by the powers of reason, to consider and judge of the act in all its

relations, moral as well as physical, and that the charge was in this

respect too favorable to the plaintiff.

The burden of proof was on the plaintiff to show that the death
was caused by the collision. All the evidence tended to show that
the deceased, with deliberate purpose, planned to take his own life,
that he closed the door and locked it with a view to exclude others

'Contra: Garrigan v. Kennedy, 19 S. Dak. 11 (1904), suicide during fit
of insanity resulting from intoxication— widow suing under act giving mar-
ried women action for injuries received by improper sale of liquor to their
husbands; and see able adverse criticism of Scheffer v. R. R., by Thomas
Beven, Esq. "Negligence in Law," 3rd Ed. 99.


and prevent interruption, and that he then took the napkin and used
it effectively to strangle himself. All this points to an understand-
ing- of the physical nature and effect of his act, and to a wilful and
intelligent purpose to accomplish it. That he was insane, so as to be
free from moral responsibility, is not enougTi lo make the defend ant
liable. We are unable to discover any evidence that he was acting
without volition, under an uncontrollable impulse, or that he did not
understand the physical nature of his act. In the absence of any
affirmative evidence for the plaintiff on this point, the jury should
have been instructed to render a verdict for the defendant.

So ordered.^

Supreme Court of Minnesota, 1892. 48 Minnesota, 134.

Appeal by defendant from an order of the district court, Ram-
sey County, Otis, J., made May i8, 1891, overruling a demurrer to
the complaint.

GiLFiLLAN, C. J. : Appeal from an order overruling a general
demurrer to the complaint. From the complaint it appears that the
plaintiff was a passenger on one of defendant's cars running upon
its line on Jackson Street, St. Paul ; that, when the car reached the
intersection of that line with the defendant's cable-car line running
on East Seventh Street, the persons in charge of it negligently
attempted to cross, and did cross, the cable line in front of a then
near and rapidly approaching cable train thereon ; that a collision
seemed so imminent, and was so nearly caused, that the incident and
attending confusion of ringing alarm bells and passengers rushing
out of the car caused to plaintiff sudden fright and reasonable fear
of immediate death or great bodily injury, and that the shock thus
caused threw her into violent convulsions, and caused to her, she
being then pregnant, a miscarriage, and subsequent illness. The
complaint shows a duty on the part of the defendant to exercise the
highest~9e gree of care to carry the plaintiff safely. It also shows
negligence in respect to that duty, and, it the negligence caused w hat
the law regards as' actionable inju ry, the action is well brought. Qf
courseTn egligence^vithout iniury~gives no right of action. On the
argument there was much discussion of the question whether fright
and mental distress alone constitute such injury that the law will
allow a recovery for it. The question is not involved in the case.
So it may be conceded that any effect of a wrongful act or neglect
on the mind alone will not furnish ground of action. Here is a
physical injury, as serious, certainly, as would be the breaking of an
arm or a leg. Does the complaint show that defendant's negligence
was the proximate cause of that injury? If so, the action will, of
course, lie. What is in law a proximate cause is well expressed in

* Accord: Koch v. Fox, 71 X. Y. App. 288 (1Q02"), death due to pneu-
monia alleged to have been caused bv decedent iumpinff into a river during fit
of insanity produced by injuries caused by defendant'? misconduct: Brozvu
v. American Steel & ll'. Co.. A3 Ind. App. 560 (^)08). "if the decedent, at
the time of taking his life, had mind enough to know what he wanted to do
and how to do it." his act would break the chain of causation and would be
the proximate cause of his death. Alitcr, if his suicide "was tlie result of
uncontrollaI)le inlluence or is accomplished in delirium or frenzy." Contra:
Maloue v. Ca^er. Irvine & Co.. 1908, Court of Sessions 479. 45 Scottish


the definition, often quoted with approval, given in Milwaukee <S'
St. P. Ry. Co. V. Kellogg, 94 U. S. 469, as follows : ^he primar y
cause may bethe^proximate caus e of a disaster, tholigh it m ay
operare thr ougli succes sive , jn .s trnmen t Rj qs p in ?r\\n]p ai _t]2^_f"'i of
a chaTn may be moved by a fo rce ap plied to t he, o i lier end, that f orce
being^ the proxirn ate cause of the movement ; or, as in the oft-cited
cTse^of the squT5~thrown in the market place. Scott v. Shepherd,
2 W. Bl. 892. The question always is, was there an unbroken
connection between the wrongful act and the injury, — a continuous
operation? Did the facts constitute a continuous succession of
events so linked together as to make a natural whole, or was there
some new and independent cause intervening between the wrong
and the injury?"

There may be a succession of intermediate causes, each pro-
duced by the one preceding, and producing the one following it. It
must appear that the injury was the natural consequence of the
wrongful act or omission. The new, independent, intervening cause
must be one not produced by the wrongful act or omission, but inde-
pendent of it, and adequate to bring about the injurious result.
Whether the natural connection of events was maintained, or was
broken by such new, independent cause, is generally a question for
the jury. In this case the only cause that can be suggested as inter-
vening between the negligence and the injury is plaintiff's condition
of mind, to wit, her fright. Could that be a natural, adequate cause
of the nervous convulsions? The mind and body operate recipro-
cally on each other. Physical injury or illness sometimes causes
mental disease. A mental shock or disturbance sometimes causes
injury or illness of body, especially of the nervous system. Now,
if the fright was the natural consequence of — was brought about,
caused by — the circumstances of peril and alarm in which defend-
ant's negligence placed plaintiff, and the fright caused the nervous
shock and convulsions and consequent illness, the negligence was
the proximate cause of those injuries. That a mental condition or
operation on the part of the one injured comes between the negli-
gence and injury does not necessarily break the required sequence
of intermediate causes. If a passenger be placed, by the carrier's
negligence, in^ ap^arentj, Jmrninenl^peril, and, obeying the natural
mstincToT^self-preservation, endeavor lo~ escape it"~by leaping^froni
thenar or coach7'and hi doing so is injured. Tie rhay^ it there be no
contributory negligence on his part, recover for the injury, although,
liad he remained in the car or coach, he would not have been in-
jured. The endeavor to escape is not of itself contributory negli-
gence. Wilson V. Northern Pac. R. Co., 26 Minn. 278 (3 N. W.
Rep. 333.) In such case, though there comes as an intermediate
cause between the negligence and injury, a condition or operation
of mind on the part of the injured passenger, the negligence is
nevertheless the proximate cause of the injury. The defendant
suggests that plaintiff's pregnancy rendered her more susceptible to
groundless alarm, and accounts more naturally and fairly than de-
fendant's negligence for the injurious consequences. Certainly a

L. R. 351 (Scotland), the dependents of a workman committing suicide dur-
ing msanity caused by an accident while in the defendant's employment held
entitled to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906.


woman in her condition has as good a right to be carried as any-
one, and is entitled to at least as high a degree of care on the part
of the carrier. It may be that, where a passenger, without the
knowledge of the carrier, is sick, feeble, or disabled, the latter does
not owe to him a higher degree of care than he owes to passengers
generally, and that the carrier would not be liable to him for an
injury caused by an act or omission not negligent as to an ordinary
passenger. But when tiie ^ct or omission is negliL^ence as to any^
and all passe ngers, well ^r '^V, ^"y ""? mjured by the negligence
must b e entitled to recover to the full extent of the injury so cause J7
wffHout re g-ard_to whether, owmg t o his previ ous condition of health,"
-je js m ore or less liable to injury. Tfthe recover}^ oi a passenger""
in feeble health wcr^ to bo liTnited to what he would have been
entitled to had he been sound, then, in case of a destruction by fire
or wrecking of a railroad car through the negligence of those in
charge of it, if all the passengers but one were able to leave it in
time to escape injury, and that one could not because sick or lame,
he could not recover at all. The suggestion mentioned would, if
carried to its logical consequences, lead to such a conclusion.

Order affirmed}


Court of Appeals of New York, 1896. 151 New York, 10;. \

Martin, J. : The facts in this case are few and may be briefly
stated. On the first day of April, 1891, the plaintiff was standing
upon a crosswalk on Main Street in the city of Rochester, awaiting
an opportunity to board one of the defendant's cars which had \
stopped upon the street at that place. While standing there, and \
just as she was about to step upon the car, a horse car of the de-
fendant came down the street. As the team attached to the car I
drew near, it turned to the right and came so close to the plaintiff I
that she stood between the horses' heads when they were stopped. )

She testified that from fright and excitement caused by theX
approach and proximity of the team she became unconscious, and
also that the result was a miscarriage and consequent illness. Medi-
cal testimony was given to the effect that the mental shock which
she then received was sufficient to produce that result.

Assuming that the evidence tended to show that the defendant'"

^Accord: Dulicu v. White. L. R. igot, 2 K. B. 669; BcII v. R. R.. Ir.
R 26 Ex 428 (1890); Cooper v. Caledonian R. R., 1902 Scotch Ct. of Ses-
sion 4 Fraser 880; Fitzpatrick v. Gt. West. R. R.. 12 U. C. Q. B. 645 (1855) :
Shane v 5-. C. R. R.. m Cal. 668 (1896) ; C. & N. R. R. v. Hunerberg, 16
111., App. 387 (1885), (■/. facts with those in Ewinc/ v. R. R.. 14" Pa. 40 (i892'» :
see however Biann v. Craven, 175 111. 401 (1898'). and Licbig v. R. R.. 79 111.
App =;67 (1898) ; Stezcart v. R. R., 112 La. 764 (1904) ; Hiekey v. jr.'/.7i. 91
Mo App. 4 (sewblc) (190O ; Watkins 1: Kaolin Co.. 131 N. C 536 (1902^:
Ohligcr V. Toledo Trac. Co.. 23 Ohio C. C. 265 (looi) ; Simonc v. R. R.. 66
Atlantic Reo. (R. I. Jan. 15. 1907 V 202: Mack v. R. R.. 52 S C.^323 (1897J :
G. C. & S. F. R. R. V. Ha\ter. 93 Te.x. 239 (1900') : Oliver v. La f (7//.', 36 \\ is.
592 (t874\ semble; Armour & Co. v. Kolhneyer, 161 Fed. 78 (C. C. .•\. 8th
Cir., 1908).


servant was negligent in the management of the car and horses, and
that the plaintiff was free from contributory negligence, the single
question presented is whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover for
the defendant's negligence which occasioned her fright and alarm,
and resulted in the injuries already mentioned. While the authori-
ties are not harmonious upon this question, we think the most re-
liable and better considered cases, as well as public policy, fully
justify us in holding that the plaintiff cannot recover for injuries
occasioned by fright, as there was no immediate personal injury.
[Lehman v. Brooklyn City R. R. Co., 47 Hun, 355; Victorian Rail-
ways Commissioners v. Coultas, L. R. [13 Appeal Cases] 222; Ew-
ing v. P., C. & St. L. Ry. Co., 147 Penn. St. 40.) The learned coun-
sel for the respondent "in his brief very properly stated that, "The
consensus of opinion would seem to be that no recovery can be had
for mere fright," as will be readily seen by an examination of the
following additional authorities : Haile v. Texas & Pacific R. Co.
(23 Lawyers' Rep. 774) ; Joch v. Dankzvardt (85 111. 331) ; Canning
V. Inhabitants of WilUamstown (i Cush. 451) ; Western Union Tel.
Co. V. Wood (57 Fed. Repr. 471); Renner v. Caniield (36 Minn.
90) ; Allsop V. Allsop (5 Hurl & Nor. [N. S.] 534) ; Johnson v.
Wells, Fargo & Co. (6 Nev. 224) ; Wyman v. Leavitt (71 Me. 227).

H it be admitted that no recovery can be had for fright occa-
sioned by the negligence of another, it is somewhat difficult to
understand how a defendant would be liable for its consequences.
Assuming that fright cannot form the basis of an action, it is obvious
that no recovery can be had for injuries resulting therefrom. That
the result may be nervous disease, blindness, insanity, or even a
miscarriage, in no way changes the principle. These results merely
show the degree of fright or the extent of the damages. The right
of action must still depend upon the question whether a recovery
may be had for fright. H it can, then an action may be maintained,
however slight the injury. If not, then there can be no recovery, no
matter how grave or serious the consequences. Therefore, the
logical result of the respondent's concession would seem to be, not
only that no recovery can be had for mere fright, but also that none
can be had for injuries which are the direct consequences of it.^

If the right of recovery in this class of cases should be once
established, it would naturally result in a flood of litigation in cases
where the injury complained of may be easily feigned without de-
tection, and where the damages must rest upon mere conjecture or
speculation. The difficulty which often exists in cases of alleged
physical injury, in determining whether they exist, and if so, whe-
ther they were caused by the negligent act of the defendant, would
not only be greatly increased, but a wide field would be opened for
fictitious or speculative claims. To establish such a doctrine" would
be contrary to principles of public policy.^

''Accord: Ezving v. R. R., 147 Pa. 40 (1802) ; Trigg v. R. R., 74 Mo. 147
(1881) ; R. R. V. Bragg, 69 Ark. 402 (1901) ; Mahoney v. Dankwart, 108 la. 321
(1899), semhle.

^Accord: Ewing v. R. R. supra; Huston v. Freemansburg, 212 Pa. 548


Moreover, it cannot be properly said that the plaintiff's miscar-
riage was the proximate result of the defendant's negligence. Prox-
imate damages are such as are the ordinary and natural results of
the negligence charged, and those that are usual and may, there-
fore, be expected. It is quite obvious that the plaintiff's injuries
do not fall within the rule as to proximate damages. The injuries
to the plaintiff were plainly the result of an accidental or unusual
combination of circumstances, which could not have been reasonably
anticipated, and over which the defendant had no control, and.
hence, her damages were too remote to justify a recovery in this
action. 3

These considerations lead to the conclusion that no recovery
_can_be had for injuries sustained by fright occasioned by the negli-
gence of another, where there is no immediate personal injury.
,.>__JPhe orders of the General and Special Terms should be re-
versed, and the order of the Trial Term granting a nonsuit affirmed^
with costs.

All concur, except Haight, J., not sitting, and Vann, J., not


Ordered accordingly.

(c) Negligent or Deliberate Acts of Third Persons.


Court of King's Bench, 1806. 8 East, i.

In an action on the case for slander the plaintiff declared, that
whereas he was retained and employed by one J. O. as a journeyman
for wages, the defendant knowing the premises, and maliciously in-
tending to injure him, and to cause it to be believed by /. O. and
others that the plaintiff had been guilty of unlawfully cutting the
cordage of the defendant, and to prevent the plaintiff from continu-
ing in the service and employ of /. O.. and to cause him to be dis-
missed therefrom, and to impoverish him; in a discourse with one
/. M. concerning the plaintiff" and concerning certain flocking cord of
the defendant alleged to have been before then cut, said that he, (the

(1905) ; Spade v. R. R., 168 Mass. 285 (1897) ; Homans v. Boston El. Ry., 180
Mass. 456 (1902). "Recognizing as we must the logic in favor of the plaintiff
when a remedy is denied because the only immediate wrong was a shock to the
nerves, we think that when the reality of the cause is guaranteed by proof of
a substantial battery of the person there is no occasion to press further the
exception to general rules." Holmes, C. J., p. 458; Cameron v. N. E. Tel. Co.,
182 IMass. 310 (1902), "the principle of the Spade case is confined strictly to
cases where the connection of the physical illness with the fright is wholly
internal." Holmes. C. J., p. 312. Pla'intitT. having risen in alarm from her
chair, either stumbled or fainted and fell.

^ Accord : Ezcing v. R. /?., 147 Pa. 40 (1892: Coultas v. I'ictoria Coin..
L. R. 13 A. C. 222 C1887) ; Jl'ard v. R. R., 65 N. J. L. 384 (1900) ; Henderson
V. R. R., 2; Ont. App. 4^7 (1898^ : Haile v. R. R.. C. C. A. 134. 60 Fed. 557
(1894) ; JV. Chic. St. R. R. v. Liebig. 79 HI- App. 567 (1898) ; Braun v. Craven,
175 111. 401 (1898), but cf. R. R. V. Hunerberg, 16 111. App. 389 (1885).