Law School Case Brief
Smith v. Rapid Transit, Inc. - 317 Mass. 469, 58 N.E.2d 754 (1945)
A proposition is proved by a preponderance of the evidence if it is made to appear more likely or probable in the sense that actual belief in its truth, derived from the evidence, exists in the mind or minds of the tribunal notwithstanding any doubts that may still linger there.
At about 1:00 A.M. on Feb. 6, 1941, while driving an automobile on Main Street in the City of Winthrop, plaintiff Smith she observed a bus coming toward her, which she described as a "great big, long, wide affair." The bus, which was owned and operated by defendant Rapid Transit, Inc. ("Rapid"), was proceeding at about 40 miles an hour when, according to Smith, it forced her to turn to the right, causing her automobile to collide with a parked car. The department of public utilities had issued a certificate of public convenience or necessity to Rapid for three routes in Winthrop, one of which included Main Street. However, another bus line was in operation in Winthrop at that time of the accident, but not on Main Street. Smith filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts commonwealth court seeking damages for injuries she sustained in the accident. Smith claimed that Rapid's employee was negligent in operating the bus, which caused the accident. Rapid filed a motion for a directed verdict, which the trial court granted. Smith Appealed.
Was Rapid entitled to a directed verdict?
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed the trial court's directed verdict for Rapid. The court noted that the ownership of the bus was a matter of conjecture, and the bus that Smith alleged caused the accident could have been one owned and operated by someone other than Rapid. The most that could be said of the evidence in the instant case was that perhaps the mathematical chances somewhat favored the proposition that Rapid's bus caused the accident, but that was not enough, the court ruled.
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