This is an appeal from a judgment, on a directed verdict, in a suit brought by appellant's intestate against appellee and Harry M. Cromwell for damages to decedent's store and residence property, Nos. 1542 and 1540 N. Patterson Park Avenue, at the southwest corner of Federal Street, which resulted from a collision at that crossing between appellee's bus, going south on Patterson Park Avenue, and Cromwell's automobile going west on Federal Street, and the consequent propulsion of the bus across the sidewalk into and through the store and into the wall of the residence.
Patterson Park Avenue is a boulevard and has the required stop signs at Federal Street. North of Federal Street it is forty-one feet, nine inches wide from curb to curb, with sidewalks fourteen feet and thirteen feet, eight inches wide; south of Federal Street it is forty-one feet, eight inches wide, with sidewalks fourteen feet, nine inches and fourteen feet, eight inches. East of Patterson Park Avenue Federal Street is fifty-nine feet, nine inches wide, from curb to curb, with sidewalks twenty feet and twenty feet, three inches wide; west of Patterson Park Avenue it is only thirty-nine feet, five inches wide, with sidewalks thirteen feet, two inches and thirteen feet, one inch. Thus, a projection westward of the center line of Federal Street (from curb to curb) east of Patterson Park Avenue would be less than three feet north of the south curb of Federal Street west of Patterson Park Avenue. From the plat it appears that east of Patterson Park Avenue the northern building line of Federal Street is a continuation from the west in a straight line or at an imperceptible angle toward the south, though the testimony of appellee's bus driver would indicate that the line east of Patterson Park Avenue was perceptibly south of, or at a perceptible angle toward the south from, the line west of Patterson Park Avenue.
The accident occurred about 4:30 P.M. on April 12, 1949, a clear day. Appellee's bus, in which there were
Because of the different width and location of Federal Street east and west of Patterson Park Avenue the parties differently interpret the testimony that the car continued in a straight line across Patterson Park Avenue and the collision occurred in the centre of the intersection. Appellant says the collision occurred about sixty-five feet, appellee about thirty-five feet, from the store corner which the bus struck. We may assume, without deciding, that the testimony would warrant more than one inference, but it is difficult to find evidence of a distance appreciably greater than fifty feet. If the bus was going twenty miles an hour, the time between the collision of the car with the bus and the collision of the bus with the store — what appellant calls the "two accidents" — would be slightly more than one second and less than two. If the speed of the bus was greater, the time was less.
Cromwell filed a plea, but did not testify or take part in the trial, in person or by counsel. The court directed a verdict for appellee, and for appellant against Cromwell. The jury found a verdict for $8,148.75 against
Appellant contends that negligence of appellee directly contributed to (1) the collision of the car and the bus, which appellant calls the "first accident" and (2) the collision of the bus with the store, which appellant calls the "second accident". As to the "first accident" appellant contends that: Negligence is relative, a breach of duty owed by one to another. The boulevard law primarily governs the relative rights and duties of favored and unfavored drivers. The duty to keep a bus off the sidewalk and out of a store and dwelling is a higher duty than that owed to an unfavored driver who by his violation of the boulevard law causes a collision. A bus is heavier, and in that respect more dangerous, than an ordinary automobile. Negligence of other drivers is one of the known dangers of driving. The driver knew this was a bad crossing. If he had looked, he could have seen, as Mr. Gerst saw, that Cromwell was not going to stop and could have avoided the accident. Instead, he went ahead "at a terrific speed" without looking, or without looking when he could have seen.
These contentions are now open only to the extent, if any, to which they have not been foreclosed by the decisions of this court. The boulevard law (now Art. 66 1/2, secs. 178, 187) originated in Chapter 224 of the Acts of 1929. Decisions of this court construing the statute become part of the statute and continue to be so unless and until changed by statute. Greenfeld v. Hook, 177 Md. 116, 8 A.2d 888, 136 A.L.R. 1485, was decided almost twelve years ago. It was a suit by an unfavored driver against the favored driver. Notwithstanding the plaintiff's contributory negligence this court
We see no basis for holding that appellee owed any higher degree of care to appellant than it owed to its own passengers. Indeed, if boulevard traffic were a menace to abutting property, this would be a factor to be considered by the authorities in determining whether to designate a boulevard in a congested part of a city. If a traveler owed a greater duty to persons and owners of property in the vicinity of a boulevard than to fellow travelers on the boulevard, he could not discharge his greater duty and also exercise "the privilege of uninterrupted travel" or carry out "the primary purpose of
Nor does the bus driver's testimony that he "knew [the intersection] to be a bad one" establish a duty to anticipate violation of the boulevard law. In Belle Isle Cab Co. v. Pruitt "the Police Department had erected a sign upon the favored highway reading, `Slow, Dangerous Corner'." The court said, "We do not mean to imply any lack of authority to erect warning or cautionary signs in the interest of safety, * * * but we think such signs cannot have the effect of limiting the privilege of uninterrupted travel on a favored highway which the statute confers." 187 Md. 181. The court also expressed doubt as to what "dangerous" meant; in the instant case the driver's testimony is no more clear in this respect. It cannot be inferred or assumed that violation of the boulevard law was the danger he had in mind. Moreover, in Baltimore Transit Co. v. O'Donovan, supra, a passenger testified that she moved from a window after she saw the danger of a collision. The court said, "If her reaction was quicker [than the bus driver's] it may have been due to nervous apprehension." 197 Md. 278. From the driver's testimony that he looked to the left when he was at the building line but could only see a few feet on the near side of Federal Street, because "you can't see around corners", it is evident that, if he looked, he looked before the bus, or his seat in the bus, reached the building line. But "the privilege of uninterrupted travel which the statute confers" exempts him from any duty "to slow down and bring his car
Appellant stresses the "terrific rate of speed" of the bus. There is no evidence either (1) that the speed of the bus was excessive or (2) that it had any causal relation to the damage to appellant's property. If we assume, without deciding, that testimony that the bus was running "at a terrific rate of speed" was admissible in evidence (People's Drug Stores v. Windham, 178 Md. 172, 180, 12 A.2d 532), it was not legally sufficient to show that the speed was excessive and unlawful. Cf. Kaufman v. Baltimore Transit Co., 197 Md. 141, 146-147, 78 A.2d 464, 467. The only speed that caused damage was speed of the Cromwell car. When a bus moving south is struck by a car moving west the bus will naturally be thrown both west and south of the place of collision. If the bus is struck at all, it will be thrown from its course. If it is moving at all, it will continue in its course as changed by the blow. Only if the bus is standing still will it be thrown in the same direction as the course of the car.
The fact that the bus was heavier than an ordinary automobile and the extent of the damage to the store and contents and the house are not evidence of negligence on the part of the bus owner. In affirming a judgment on a verdict directed for a defendant, the owner of a truck which "weighed more than thirteen tons", the favored vehicle on a boulevard, the court said, "No evidence was introduced to show the type of brakes on the truck, * * * the condition of the treads on the tires of the truck, or the reaction time of the driver. * * * Of course, when a heavily loaded tractor-trailer strikes an automobile, the impact naturally causes much destruction. Negligence cannot be proven from testimony as to what happened after the accident. There is no evidence as to
Appellant earnestly argues that appellee caused the second accident by failing to apply the emergency brake during the interval — between one and two seconds, or less — between the first and second accidents. Appellant invokes the doctrine of negligence in emergencies and cites cases holding that (1) whether an emergency existed and (2) whether the person involved was negligent in the emergency are ordinarily questions for the jury. Newman v. Stocker, 161 Md. 552, 554-555, 157 A. 761; Consolidated Gas, Electric Light & Power Co. v. O'Neill, 175 Md. 47, 51-52, 200 A. 359. In invoking this doctrine appellant confuses it and in effect sets up a straw man to knock down. The doctrine of negligence in emergencies is not a ground of liability for negligence but an excuse for apparent negligence. A jury cannot find negligence, without evidence, in an emergency or in any other situation. One who is apparently guilty of negligence excuses his apparent negligence by asserting that he acted in an emergency and that what in other circumstances would have been negligence is not negligence in view of the emergency. To be hurled across a sidewalk and through a store by an automobile violating the boulevard law is not actual or apparent negligence. Appellee does not excuse apparent negligence, but denies the fact or the appearance of negligence on its part. There is no evidence on what side of the bus the emergency brake was, or whether the driver, thrown from his
The passage quoted above from Brooks v. Childress is also controlling as to appellant's attempt to segregate the "second accident" and hold appellee liable. "Negligence cannot be proven from testimony as to what happened after the accident." As we have said, if the jury chose to disbelieve the driver's testimony then there would be no evidence at all as to what he did after the collision.
Judgment affirmed with costs.