This is an action for damages for personal injuries sustained by plaintiff as the result of an automobile collision at the intersection of Linwood and Claiborne Avenues in the City of Shreveport, occurring about 12:10 o'clock A.M., October 20, 1955. Plaintiff was standing on the trolley platform or "safety zone" on the east side of Linwood, 79 feet north of the north curb line of Claiborne Avenue at its intersection with Linwood, waiting to board a northbound trolley to take her home from her day's labor. Two motor vehicles, one driven by Douglas W. Robison and the other by Dr. Carroll V. Guice, collided in the aforesaid intersection. The Robison vehicle, after being struck by the Guice automobile, ricocheted, continued northeasterly, jumped the curb and struck plaintiff, amputating one of her legs at the scene of the accident and so injuring and damaging the other that, after several operations, it was removed.
Dr. Guice and Allstate Insurance Company, after unsuccessfully moving for a new trial, appealed to this court. Robison and his insurer did not appeal.
The appeal presents initially and primarily for resolution a question of fact, that is, whether or not Dr. Guice was negligent and, if so, if his negligence was a proximate contributing cause of the accident.
Linwood Avenue is a main four-lane thoroughfare in the City of Shreveport, 40 feet wide from curb to curb, and takes a general north and south course. Claiborne Avenue, only 30 feet wide from curb to curb, intersects and crosses Linwood at right angles. Traffic is controlled by electric semaphore lights. Linwood is a concrete paved street. Claiborne is asphalt surfaced.
While the night was dark, there were no unusual weather or atmospheric conditions that would obstruct one's view or interfere with traffic. The weather was dry.
Robison was proceeding northward in his Oldsmobile on Linwood Avenue toward Claiborne Avenue and Guice was driving his Mercury east on Claiborne Avenue, approaching Linwood Avenue. It was the intention of both drivers to continue forward and through the intersection. The point of impact of the collision was four feet east and one foot south of the center of the intersection. The front of the Guice car struck the left rear of the Robison car. The Guice car skidded 28 feet before the impact. There was no evidence that the Robison car skidded prior to the collision but continued therefrom out of control until it struck plaintiff and knocked her against a concrete pole.
The evidence discloses that on the evening preceding the accident, Guice and one Sam Davenport had dinner at The Chef on East Kings Highway, after which they "whiled away" the time until about 11:30 in the apartment of Miss Retha Maxwell, when they departed, driving westward through town to the Rex Drive-In, located on the Mansfield Road, where they picked up Miss Maxwell for the purpose of carrying her to her apartment, and it was while returning, proceeding eastward on Claiborne Avenue, that the accident occurred.
Joint and concurrent negligence was charged against the drivers of both cars in failing to maintain a proper lookout, driving at an excessive and unlawful rate of speed, failing to keep the vehicles under proper control or to yield the right of way to the other car and to slow down or stop or to give any warning signal of their approach.
Our first attention is now directed to the negligence vel non of Dr. Guice. This can only be resolved by a consideration of the evidence appertaining to the facts and circumstances of the accident and after applying those facts to the applicable principles of law involved. As to the facts, we need consider none other than the testimony of Dr. Guice and that of his two companions, particularly that of Dr. Guice himself.
That Dr. Guice failed to maintain a proper lookout and failed to exercise due precaution in an effort to prevent or avoid the accident is established by his own testimony. Inasmuch as this is a matter most earnestly questioned by appellants, we deem it advisable to refer to and quote the Doctor's testimony in considerable detail. The Doctor and his witnesses, his two companions, are apparently in accord that they were traveling 30 to 35 miles per hour as they approached the intersection; that when from two or three car lengths to as much as
As to whether or not the Doctor was keeping and maintaining a proper lookout, he gave, under cross-examination, this testimony:
"Q. Looking directly ahead at that light, weren't you? A. Yes.
Under direct examination, the defendant gave this testimony:
"Q. You did what? A. Reflexed.
In a further discussion as to the distance he was from the intersection, which he again estimated at two car lengths, he testified:
"Q. A moment after that? A. Or a second."
following which he was asked if that statement was correct, whereupon he testified as follows:
"Q. That's what you said? A. Yes.
"Q. Did you look? A. —would be there.
"Q. Did you look? A. I would automatically be looking.
"A. At that point? The light was completely in my favor";
and admitted there was nothing to keep him from turning to the right or to the south on Linwood and avert the accident, which he said he could have done,
"Q. Yes, sir, you could have", and he admitted that when he realized he was in difficulty he could not definitely state that he was 50 feet back from the intersection but that he was approximately two car lengths or more.
Miss Maxwell contributed nothing of value in her testimony as to the occurrence of the accident, as, according to her testimony, she was lighting a cigarette and did not see the Robison car until the impact. She made no observation of the traffic lights.
Davenport, according to his testimony, did not see the other car although he was riding on the righthand side of the front seat, the side from which the Robison car was approaching. He stated:
His testimony followed closely that of Dr. Guice, from which it is established that neither Guice nor Davenport looked to the right or to the left before they reached or after they entered the intersection. The record is so replete with statements to that effect that it would not be but concluded that neither prior to nor after Guice entered the intersection did he turn his head either to the right or the left or make any observation as to the approach of traffic on the main thoroughfare. The driver's own testimony is substantially to the effect that he was only looking for the green light and when the light so showed he accelerated or, as he stated, "showered down" and went on into the intersection without regard to any other fact or circumstance. As a result of his action, the collision occurred, Robison lost control of his car, struck plaintiff and inflicted the injuries, which caused indescribable suffering and the loss of both lower limbs of a woman 36 years of age.
Numerous decisions of the appellate courts of this State have recognized the principle of law that even when one has the right of way he is not relieved from the necessity of looking into the direction from which others may be expected to approach, and that where such care, as in the case here, would have prevented the accident, he who fails to look is guilty of negligence constituting a proximate cause of the accident, although the other party was grossly at fault. Johnson v. Item Co., Ltd., 10 La. App. 671, 121 So. 369. This principle was followed by this court in Thomas v. Leonard Truck Lines, Inc., La.App., 7 So.2d 753, 755, wherein it was stated:
This court has also stated in Prudhomme v. Continental Casualty Co., La.App., 169 So. 147, 152:
The principle was again restated by this court in greater detail and with further explanation in New Hampshire Fire Ins. Co. v. Bush, La.App., 68 So.2d 254, 256, as follows:
Again, in Currie v. Government Employees Insurance Co., La.App., 90 So.2d 482, 485-486, this court had occasion to reaffirm the principles of law applicable to the facts of this case, wherein it was stated:
It was recognized in the case of New Hampshire Fire Ins. Co. v. Bush, supra, that the generally accepted rule, that where a motorist enters an intersection facing a favorable traffic light, it is negligence to fail to notice another vehicle moving in violation of the traffic right of way, has application only where it appears the circumstances are such that a person exercising only slight care would have noticed the other vehicle, and where it appears also had the vehicle been noticed it would have been apparent to the operator of the favored vehicle that the driver of the other car either could not or would not stop on the unfavorable traffic signal. It was said, therefore, that a strict or an extraordinary obligation is not placed upon a favored operator but that, notwithstanding his favored position, he may not blindly proceed into obvious danger which one exercising slight care would have noticed and would have avoided. In accordance with that rule, we held in Sullivan v. Locke, La.App., 73 So.2d 616, 617, 621, that it is not placing a strict or an extraordinary obligation upon a motorist on a right of way street to exercise a mere slight care and precaution in observing approaching traffic, and that where the driver on the favored street did not look at all for approaching traffic, as Dr. Guice did not do here, but merely looked straight ahead and did not see that which was there for the motorist to see, the motorist did not exercise the slightest care in that regard. To the same effect is Thomas v. Roberts, La.App., 144 So. 70, and Kientz v. Charles Dennery, Inc., 209 La. 144, 24 So.2d 292.
Therefore, it is obvious that under a traffic light system the dangers at street intersections are less than if there were no
If defendant was correct in his contention that his speed was only 30 to 35 miles per hour, such speed was not so great as to prevent him from taking effective means of either slowing, stopping or turning aside to prevent or avoid the accident, and had he made proper observation he should have realized the rapid approach of the Robison car and that it could not be stopped before reaching the intersection, for, had he even glanced to his right at a proper point before reaching the intersection, he surely would have been able to see a considerable distance south on Linwood Avenue. The approaching car was within the range of vision and it should have been at once apparent that the speed at which it was traveling was such that it could not be stopped prior to entering the intersection. Guice should, therefore, have refrained from driving into the path of the approaching car. His negligence is manifest.
That there was nothing to obstruct the view of Dr. Guice as he approached the intersection can hardly be denied. He stated that he had traversed this route many times and that his view had not been obstructed on the previous occasions. Police Officer Nunley, who made the investigation of the accident, stated that the hedge did not obstruct his view and that when 30 feet west of the intersection one could see south on Linwood a considerable distance. The defendant himself testified that at the time he could see 60 to 100 feet south on Linwood. To the same effect is the testimony of Mrs. J. C. Foster, who has lived at the southwest corner of this intersection for many years.
Plaintiff reurges the applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur and cites the cases of Dunaway v. Maroun, La.App., 178 So. 710; Chapman v. Travelers Indemnity Co., La.App., 45 So.2d 557, and Bonner v. Boudreaux, La.App., 8 So.2d 309, in support of her contention. In view of the conclusion reached herein as to the facts established in the record, it is not deemed necessary that we discuss the applicability of this doctrine, which is questioned by defendants.
Appellants alleged in a motion for a new trial that two jurors, Campbell and Willis, visited the scene of the accident during the course of the trial and that this constituted improper conduct on the part of these jurors. There is no suggestion, however, that there was any improper motive actuating either of these jurors, neither is it shown that defendants have been prejudiced in their rights. There was only one dissenting vote to the verdict of the jury in this case, and one of the jurors visiting the scene of the accident is shown to have cast that dissenting vote. No instructions were given the panel that the members of the jury should not visit the scene of the accident. We are informed by the record that all the jurors in the case were residents of the City of Shreveport. It is, therefore, reasonable to presume that at least most of them had a general knowledge of this street intersection. There is no showing or allegation that the fact that these two jurors visited the scene of the accident had any effect or influence whatsoever on the verdict that was rendered.
In a written opinion overruling the motion, the trial judge, with reference to viewing
Should the jurors have committed error, we do not consider it, under the facts and circumstances of this case, prejudicial, as no improper motive was imputed to them and it is not alleged or shown that the rights of any of the parties were prejudiced by their action. Again, we say that if error were committed by the jurors, the appellants' rights have not been prejudiced. The entire record is before us as an appellate court upon appeal, and upon this court is conferred full and complete authority to review the facts as well as the law and to reach a conclusion predicated entirely thereon, subject, of course, to review, on appropriate application, by the Supreme Court. The entire record has been reviewed by all the members of this court, as the record of our actions will show. Our conclusion is reached from our consideration and review of the record.
Before this court no issue has been made by counsel for either party as to the quantum of damages fixed by the verdict of the jury and the judgment in accordance therewith. We can only assume that this is chargeable to the low insurance coverage involved and the possible inability of the joint tort feasors to satisfy a more substantial award. We make mention of this point for the reason that we would not wish to have the amount of damages as fixed by the judgment in this case considered as any nature of precedent for in our opinion the almost indescribable injuries received by this plaintiff and the permanent effects thereof would justify a much greater allowance than that which has been fixed.
Accordingly, the judgment appealed is affirmed at appellants' cost.
GLADNEY, J., dissents, giving written reasons.
GLADNEY, Judge (dissenting).
In holding the negligence of Dr. C. W. Guice in the operation of his Mercury automobile was contributory to the tragic injuries sustained by plaintiff near midnight of October 20, 1955, the decision of the majority of this court is manifestly in error. The opinion finds Dr. C. W. Guice was negligent in failing to timely observe and realize D. W. Robison would disregard a red light, speed into the intersection, and thus precipitate the intersectional collision which indirectly brought about the injuries of plaintiff. The decision holds that if Dr. Guice had been more alert he could have avoided the accident. With this conclusion I disagree, for conclusive facts have been established to my satisfaction which show complete absence of negligence by Dr. Guice.
The locus or point of impact: This was located by Officer C. E. Nunley of the Shreveport Police force in the intersection of Claiborne and Linwood, 16 feet south of the north curb of Claiborne and 16 feet west of the east curb of Linwood. Officer Nunley found tire prints registered by Dr. Guice's car leading up to the point of impact from a point 4 feet west of the west curb of Linwood, or a total length of 28 feet. The Robison vehicle made no tire prints prior to the collision, but thereafter skidded 79 feet to strike plaintiff. These facts are not disputed. The inference from these physical facts is: first, the brakes of the Mercury were locked 28 feet distant from the point of impact; and second, the Guice vehicle skidded 24 feet into the intersection while Robison moved 14 feet into the intersection without being affected by any application of his brakes.
The relative speed of the two vehicles in the proximity of the intersection is conclusively established. That of Robison was shown to have been in excess of 50 miles per hour and that of Dr. Guice was 30 miles per hour. The lawful maximum speed in effect was 35 miles per hour. In this connection the table prepared by H. B. Barret that accompanies his article "Mechanics of Control and Lookout in Automobile Law", 14 Tulane Law Review, 493, 503, is pertinent and reveals that at 50 miles per hour Robison was moving at a velocity of 73.3 feet per second, while Guice at 30 miles per hour was proceeding 44 feet per second; that at 30 miles per hour under excellent stopping conditions which existed in this instance, a total of 68.3 feet is required to come to a complete stop, which distance includes 35.3 feet net braking distance and 33 feet reaction time. To negotiate the full 68.3 feet requires 2.35 seconds, which includes 1.60 seconds as the net braking time and .75 of a second for reaction time. Inference: Dr. Guice began to "hit the brakes" 61 feet from the point of impact and his vehicle contacted the Robison car 7.3 feet before a normal complete stop would have been achieved. To arrive at the exact time it took the Mercury to cross the 61 feet we have made allowance for the 7.3 feet mentioned, and calculate the time consumed for the 61 feet was 2.03 seconds or approximately 2 seconds. Thus, when Guice was 61 feet from the point of impact Robison was 146.6 feet from the same point. It follows then that when Dr. Guice was 37 feet west of the intersection Robison was 132.6 feet south of the intersection.
The third important factor in testing the negligence of Dr. Guice relates to his ability to see across the southwest corner of the intersection in order to observe motor vehicles on Linwood approaching the intersection from the south. Certain obstructions are conclusively shown. First, the presence of Mrs. J. C. Foster's house at 1603 Claiborne, rather close to Linwood and about 56 feet south of Claiborne; second, a hedge along the west side of the Foster lot; and third, a dip or declination of Linwood looking south from the subject intersection. Without going into a lengthy discussion of these obstacles to a motorist's view while traveling east on Claiborne toward the intersection, the record discloses Officer Nunley testified after his examination of the scene, that he found from a point on Claiborne four car lengths west of the intersection one could see but four car lengths south of the intersection along Linwood. By using a length of 17 feet for each vehicle then a motorist when 68 feet west of Linwood and traveling as was Dr. Guice on Claiborne, could see a vehicle proceeding north on Linwood only when it was 68 feet south of the intersection. Furthermore, the fact is inescapable that the farther Dr. Guice was from the intersection the less distance he could see to the south along Linwood. And conversely, the closer he came to the intersection, the farther he could see south along Linwood.
The uncontroverted fact is that Dr. Guice realized the impending danger of a collision when he reached a point 37 feet west
To reach any other conclusion than total absence of negligence on the part of Dr. Guice is manifest error, and I therefore, respectfully dissent from the majority opinion of this court.
Rehearing denied; GLADNEY, J., dissents.