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NEW YORK, L.E. & W. R. CO. V. WINTER'S ADM'R, 143 U. S. 60 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York, L.E. & W. R. Co. v. Winter's Adm'r, 143 U.S. 60 (1892)

New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad

Company v. Winter's Administrator

No. 169

Argued January 19-20, 1892

Decided February 1, 1892

143 U.S. 60

Syllabus

Parol evidence of what is said between a passenger on a railroad and the ticket seller of the company at the time of the purchase by the passenger of his ticket is admissible as going to make up the contract of carriage and forming part of it.

Passengers on railroad trains are not presumed or required to know the rules and regulations of the company made for the guidance of its conductors and employees as to its own internal affairs.

Plaintiff bought a ticket in Boston entitling him to a passage over defendant's road. At the time, he informed the ticket agent of his wish to stop off at the Olean station, and was then told by the agent that he would have to speak to the conductor about that. Between Binghamton and Olean, the plaintiff informed the conductor that he wished to stop over at Olean and the conductor, instead of giving him a stop-over ticket, punched his ticket and told him that was sufficient to give him the right to stop over at Olean, and afterwards to use the punched ticket between Olean and Salamanca. He made the stop, and taking another train to Salamanca, presented the punched ticket, informing the conductor of what had taken chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 143 U. S. 61

place. The conductor refused to take it and demanded full fare. The payment of this being refused, the conductor stopped the train at the next station and ejected him from it, using such force as was necessary.

Held:

(1) That he was rightfully on the train at the time of his expulsion.

(2) That the conductor had no right to put him off for not paying his fare.

(3) That the company was liable for the act of the conductor.

(4) That the passenger had a right to refuse to be ejected from the train, and to make a sufficient resistance to being put off to denote that he was being removed against his will by compulsion.

(5) That the fact that under such circumstances he was put off the train was of itself a good cause of action against the company, irrespective of any physical injury he might have then received, or which was caused thereby.

When the trial court has, in its general charge, given the substance of instructions requested, there is no error in refusing to give them in the language requested.

It is not the province of this Court to determine whether a verdict was excessive.

The Court stated the case as follows:

This was an action by David T. Winter, a citizen of Massachusetts, against the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad Company, a New York corporation, to recover damages for having been put off the defendant's train while a passenger thereon between Binghamton and Salamanca, New York. It was commenced in a state court of Massachusetts, and was afterwards, upon the application of the defendant, removed into the proper federal court on the grounds of diverse citizenship and of local prejudice and influence. Several other railroad companies that were supposed to have property or funds in their hands belonging to the principal defendant were made parties defendant as trustees or garnishees.

The declaration contained two counts. In the first, it was alleged that on February 13, 1882, the plaintiff, being the owner of an unlimited first class ticket entitling him to carriage on the defendant's road from Binghamton to Salamanca, took passage on the defendant's train at the former place, to be carried to the latter; that between Binghamton and Olean (a station on the road between Binghamton and Salamanca), chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 143 U. S. 62

the defendant's agent in charge of the train punched his ticket at his request, so that he was entitled to "stop over" at Olean, and returned it to him; that he did stop over at Olean, and the next day took a train on defendant's road to go to Salamanca on the aforesaid ticket; that the defendant's agent in charge of the last-named train refused to accept his ticket, but demanded payment of a cash fare from Olean to Salamanca, and, upon his refusal to pay the same, forcibly ejected him from the car in which he was riding, and removed him from the train, whereby his finger was broken and other severe and painful injuries were sustained, that his luggage and apparel were taken away on the train, and he was thereby deprived of certain valuable papers, and the place where he was ejected from the train was a great distance from any public house, and that it was at a very late hour of the night, and the weather was very cold and inclement, all of which occasioned him great bodily and mental suffering.

The second count alleged that the defendant, by its agents and servants, made an assault upon the plaintiff, and ejected him from the cars in which he was lawfully traveling, and did him serious personal injury, and subjected him to great personal indignity.

The defendant answered with a general denial, and further alleged that when its conductor applied to the plaintiff for his ticket, after leaving Olean, the plaintiff presented a ticket which had been cancelled to Salamanca, whereupon the conductor told him that such ticket was not good to Salamanca, and that the rule of the road would not allow him to, and he could not, accept it, although it would be good beyond Salamanca, and that he must pay full fare to that point, which the plaintiff refused to do, saying to the conductor to put him off, if he dared to do so; that the conductor told him he should be obliged to stop the train at the next station, and put him off, and that, the plaintiff still refusing to pay his fare when the next station was reached, the conductor stopped the train, and put him off, using no more force than was necessary and proper.

It was further alleged that the plaintiff had no lawful right chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 143 U. S. 63

to be transported over the road to Salamanca, and was traveling on defendant's cars in violation of a uniform rule of the road which was explained to him before he was put off, and without any lawful right whatever, and that, if he sustained any injuries of any kind, it was due solely to his own wrong.

The garnishees answered separately, and, with the exception of the Fitchburg road, each averred that it had no property or funds whatever in its hands belonging to the principal defendant. The latter company, in its answer, admitted having several thousand dollars in money belonging to the principal defendant.

Upon the issues thus made up, the case went to trial in the state court, resulting in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for over $6.000, which, upon motion of the defendant, was set aside by trial in the state court, resulting in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for over $6.000, which, upon motion of the defendant, was set aside by