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Moss v. Wells - 249 S.W. 411

Rule:

 The character of the injury is a material link in the chain of circumstances tending to show negligence.

Facts:

Plaintiff Tillie Moss, a passenger on defendant Rolla Wells' streetcar, was injured at Eighteenth and Carr streets in the city of St. Louis, alleged that she was injured when she was thrown from Wells’ streetcar while she was endeavoring to alight from the car. Plaintiff alleged that after the streetcar had stopped in response to Moss’ signal to stop at Eighteenth street, defendant's conductor suddenly, and without warning to Moss, started the car forward before Moss had a reasonable time to alight, and thereby throwing her violently to the ground and injuring her. At trial, Moss’ 15-year-old son testified that he was on car with Moss, that she had rung bell to stop at Twentieth and Nineteenth without any response from the trainmen, but that he did not see details of the accident at the time his mother was stepping off and fell to the pavement. He ran immediately afterwards to her. The jury found a verdict for defendant Wells, and Moss duly appealed.

Issue:

Was Moss’ injury due to the conductor’s negligence?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

Wells’ contention that the mere fact that Moss was injured is absolutely no evidence of negligence is not tenable. The argument is that while such an instruction may not be error in some cases, it was error in this case because the character of the injury itself, as testified to by Moss and her physician, tended to show that it was caused by Wells’ negligence. The fact that the conductor did not stop at all, when Moss rang the bell at Twentieth and Nineteenth streets, was potent evidence to show that he would not or did not stop long enough for her to safely alight at Eighteenth street. It all related to the same transaction, to Moss’ endeavor to alight. It was a relevant circumstance for the consideration of the jury in determining the negligence charged against the conductor.

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