Bell v Great Northern Rly Company of Ireland

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date25 June 1890
Date25 June 1890
Docket Number(1889 — G. No. 310.)
CourtExchequer Division

Ex. Div.

(1889 — G. No. 310.)



Western Railway Co. of Ireland Unreported

Jones v. BoyceENR 1 Stark. 493.

Victorian Railways Commissioners v. CoultasELR 13 App. Cas. 222.

Byrne v. Great Southern and Western Railway Co. Unreported

Wilkins v. DayELR 12 Q. B. Div. 110.

Man. S. J. & A. Railway Co. v. Fullarton 14 C. B. (N.S.)54.

Byrne v. Great Southern and Western Railway Co. Unreported

Notting HillELR 9 P. D. 105.

The ParanaELR 2 P. D. 118.

Blake v. Midland Railway Co.UNK 21 L. J., Q. B. 233.

13 App. Cas. 222.Vandenburgh v. Truax 4 Denio. Sup. Ct. N. Y. Rep. 464.

Southern and Western Railway Company Unreported

Negligence — Railway Company — Injury to passenger — shock without physical impact — Fright — Remotenss of damage.

BELL AND ANOTHER v. THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY OF IRELAND. (1889-G. No. 310.) Negligence-Railway Company-Injury to passenger-Shock without physical impact-Fright-Remoteness of damage. While A was travelling as a passenger in an excursion train over portion of the defendants' line of railway, the train, which was too heavy to be carried by the engine up an incline, was divided by the defendants' servants, the carÂriage occupied by A, with certain others, remaining attached to the engine. The hinder part of the train having thereupon descended the incline with great velocity, the engine was reversed, and with the remaining carriages (including that in which A was seated) followed down the incline, also at a high rate of speed, until stopped with a violent jerk. In an action for injuries sustained by A it was proved that A was put in great fright by the occurrence, and that she suffered from nervous shock in consequence of such fright. She was incapacitated from performing her ordinary avocations ; and medical witnesses were of opinion that her sympÂtoms might result in paralysis. The learned Judge in charging the jury told them that if great fright was, in their opinion, a reasonable and natural consequence of the circumstances in which the defendants had placed A, and she was actually put in great fright by these circumstances, and if injury to her health was, in their opinion, a reasonable and natural consequence of such great fright, and was actually occaÂsioned thereby, damages for such injury would not be too remote, and might be given for them. The jury found inter alia-1, that the defendants were guilty of negligence; 2, that injuries were occasioned to A's health whilst she was in the train ; 3, that those injuries were occasioned by the defendants' negligence ; 4, that those injuries reasonably and naturally resulted from the defendants' negliÂgence in relation to the part of the train in which A was ; and the learned Judge upon these findings directed judgment to be entered for A for the assessed damages : Held, following Byrne v. Great Southern and Western Railway Co. of Ireland (Court of Appeal, Ireland, 1884-unreported), in preference to The Victorian Railway Commissioners v. Coultas (13 App. Cas. 222), that the questions left to the jury by the learned Judge were properly submitted to Vet. XXVI.] O. B. & EX. DIVISIONS. 429 them, and that he had rightly instructed them upon the liability of the Ex. Div. defendants. 1890. BELL CAUSE SHOWN by the plaintiffs against a conditional order to , OT. :Anat. enter the verdict and judgment for the defendant Company. RAILWAY Co. The action was brought by the plaintiffs, who were husband and wife, to recover £600 damages for personal injuries alleged to have been sustained by the plaintiff Mary Bell through the negliÂgence of the defendants; and the plaintiff George Bell claimed a further sum of £200 for loss of the society and services of his wife, and for medical expenses. The statement of claim alleged that the plaintiff Mary Bell became a passenger on the defendants' railway upon a journey from Armagh to Warrenpoint, and that the defendants so negliÂgently and unskilfully conducted themselves in carrying the said plaintiff upon said railway on the said journey, in managing the said railway and the carriage in which the said plaintiff was a passenger, that the said plaintiff was wounded and injured ; and further alleged that, by reason of the premises, the plaintiff George Bell had lost the society and services of the said Mary Bell, and had been put to expense. The defendants by their defence traversed-1, the alleged negligence ; 2, that Mary Bell sustained any injuries ; 3, that it was by reason of any negligence on their part that she had susÂtained the injuries ; and, 4, that George Bell had been deprived of the society or services of his wife, or that he had been put to any loss or expense. The plaintiffs joined issue. The action was tried before Mr. Justice Andrews and a jury of the city of Dublin, in the Michaelmas Sittings, 1889. The plainÂtiff Mary Bell was examined, and deposed that she was forty-nine years old, and up to June, 1889, was in good health. She was a passenger in the excursion train which left Armagh about 10 o'clock a.m. on the 12th June, 1889. The carriage she was in was the last carriage of that part of the train which remained conÂnected with the engine after the train was divided. The train was not able to go up the incline of Dobbin's Bridge. She heard 2K2 Ex. Div. the unhooking. The train stopped, and was then unhooked. 1890. Before the carriage started, after the stop, a man sitting on the BELL seat behind her dropped on her shoulder from the jerk at starting. GT. NORTEIN. The portion of the train she was in went on, and then it gave a RAILWAY Co. • jerk, and reversed towards Armagh, and went back very fast. She heard rattling of chains, and heard cries of " Jump out; jump out : you'll all be killed." The carriage doors were locked ; and she saw people jumping out through the windows. There was a steep embankment at one side ; and the train was going back very fast. Witness and all the people in the carriage were frightened. The train came to a curve, and pulled up suddenly. Witness was then standing up, and was thrown down ; and the people in the carriage were all thrown about. She remembered nothing more of how she got out of the carriage ; and she was in Armagh till the Monday week after the accident, and then went home to CarÂrickfergus. [Witness then deposed to the injuries she received.] Her general employment was housekeeping for her husband, who was a land-steward ; and she was unable since the accident to do anything owing to the injuries she received. She had four children, one of whom was living with her. On cross-examination the witness deposed that the carriage she was in did not collide with any other train or carriage, and she was not in the runaway part of the train. She felt a jerk when the train was put back to be loosed before it was unhooked : that was the first jerk ; but it did not cause her injuries. The last jerk was the only one. She did not know anyone in the carriage but her daughter and grandchild. At the last jerk of the carriage she was thrown down ; but she did not know if anyone else in the carriage was thrown down. Other witnesses were examined, and proved the uncoupling of the carriages, and the shock sustained by the passengers when the train jerked. The plaintiffs' daughter was examined, and proved that in June, 1889, the plaintiff went on a visit to a lady in Armagh, and was up to that time in good health. The plaintiff came back about the Monday week after the accident, and witness hardly knew her ; she looked as white as death, and trembled. She could not sleep at night ; and if she fell asleep she awoke screaming. VoL. XXVI.] Q. B. & EX. DIVISIONS. 431 The plaintiff got gradually worse, and continually complained of Ex. Div. her head and side. On the morning of the 7th July, 1889, at 1890. 3 o'clock, plaintiff had been in bed; and witness, who was sleeping BELL in the next room, found her on the floor, screaming. The doctor GT. NORTIIN. was then called in. The plaintiff's mind was entirely deranged ; RAILWAY Co. and she began throwing things out of the bed. Ever since the accident plaintiff had been in bad health...

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