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Chatfield v. Wilson.
the ground of the motive which induced it.) Such was the case of South Royalton Bank v. Suffolk Bank, 27 Vt. 505. If the act is lawful, although it may be prejudicial, it is damnum absque injuria. On this point the case of Mahan v. Brown, 13 Wend. 261, is a direct authority. There the defendant had built a high fence for the sole purpose of obstructing the lights of his neighbor's house; and it was held, that no action would lie, where the lights were not ancient, and no right had been acquired by grant or user; and that the motive with which the act was done was immaterial. This case goes upon the ground, that the plaintiff was not injured in a legal right.
This is not like the case where the air is contaminated so as to become noxious. There a correlative right is invaded. In the case of Greenleaf v. Francis, 18 lick. 117, it is true, the court charged the jury that if the defendant dug the well where he did, upon his own land for the purpose of injuring the plaintiff, and not for the purpose of obtaining the water for his own use, the defendant was liable in that action. In that case, the verdict was for the defendant, and the plaintiff was the excepting party. The plaintiff could not complain of that part of the charge; and, in bank,c there was no occasion to review that part of it; and it is no point in the decision, though Judge PUTNAM does remark, in the course of his opinion, that “the rights of the defendant should not be exercised from mere malice as the judge ruled below," but no such point was in judgment. The exceptions came from the plaintiff, and it can only be regarded as an obiter dictum of the judge; the case found, that the defendant had dug his well in that place on his land, where it was most convenient for him; and we think, as applied to a case like the one then at bar, and the one now before us, the position was unsound, and against principle and authority. I
Judgment of the county court reversed, and the cause remanded.
Russell T. Noyes vi JOHN SMITH AND WILLIAM R. LEE.
Master and servant.
A master is bound to exercise proper care and diligence in the selection of the agencies and instruments with or upon which he employs his servant; and, if he fail to do so, he will be liable to the servant for any injuries he may sustain there from.
The declaration averred that the plaintiff was hired by the defendants to have the
harge of, and conduct and run an engine, and that by virtue of said employment, it became the duty of the defendants to furnish an engine that was well constructed and safe, &c., but that they carelessly and wrongfully furnished an insufficient engine; that the insufficiency was unknown to the plaintiff, and “but for want of all proper care and diligence would have been known to the defendants;" and that, while the plaintiff was in the careful and prudent use of said engine, it exploded on account of said insufficiency, and injured the plaintiff, &c. Held, on demurrer, that the declaration disclosed a sufficient cause of action.
ACTION ON THE CASE. The declaration was as follows. * In a plea of the case, whereupon the plaintiff declares and says, that heretofore, to wit, on the 11th day of November, 1853, and for a long time before that time, the defendants were in the possession of the Vermont Central Railroad Company's track, and of all engines, locomotives, cars, and other furniture, which had previously belonged to the Vermont Central Railroad Company, a corporation cliartered and organized by and under a law of the legislature of the state of Vermont, and the defendants on that day, and long before, were and had been common carriers of freight and passengers on said road; and that on the 11th day of November, 1853, the plaintiff was in the employ of the defendants, hired by them, as an engineer, to have charge of and conduct and run an engine on said road, for the purpose of transporting passengers and freight on said road, and had for a long time before been such hired servant of the defendants, in the capacity of engineer,—and that by virtue of said employment of the plaintiff by the defendants, as aforesaid, it became and was the duty of said defendants to furnish an engine for the plaintiff to conduct and run, as it was his duty to do, that was well constructed and safe to the engineer, with the use of proper skill on his part. Yet the defendants, disregarding this duty, to wit, on the 11th day of November, 1853, carelessly and wrongfully gave to the plaintiff to use and conduct in drawing freight on said road, an engine which had not before been con
ducted by or known to the plaintiff, which was insufficiently stayed and bolted around the fire box, and insufficient in divers parts ; insomuch that it greatly endangered the life of the engineer who ran it-all which was unknown to the plaintiff, and all which, but for want of all proper care and diligence, would have been known to the defendants. And the plaintiff avers that while in the careful and prudent use and management of said engine, on his part, on the 11th day of November, 1853, on said road, said engine exploded from the imperfection and insufficiency aforesaid, and by the explosion, the plaintiff was so torn and scalded, that he hitherto, since that day, hath been and always will be a cripple, and wholly unable to work, and hath been put to great expense for doctors and nurses, to wit, $1,000, whereby and by reason of all which, an action hath accrued to the plaintiff to have and recover his said damages, and all he hath lost from the causes aforesaid, to his damage,” &c.
To this declaration the defendants demurred, and the county court, September Term, 1855,-POLAND, J., presiding,-adjudged the declaration insufficient. Exceptions by the plaintiff.
P. Dillingham and H. Carpenter for the plaintiff.
This declaration does not present the same question that is decided in Priestly v. Fowler, 3 Mees. & Welsb. 1; Farwell v. B. & W. R. Co., 4 Met. 44; Maury v. So. Car. R. Co., 1 McMullan 385. These and many other similar cases determine merely that one servant cannot recover against his employer for injuries occasioned by the negligence of his co-servant, for the reason that all obligation from the master arises, expressly or by implication, from the contract.
We insist that there was, by virtue of this contract of hiring between these parties, an implied warranty that the defendants would furnish the plaintiff with an engine to conduct that was reasonably safe and well constructed; and that, failing to do this, they were liable to the plaintiff for his injuries sustained by reason of that neglect.
It is a legal inference, arising from the contract of hiring, that the master or employer shall employ, as other servants, men reasonably skilled in their particular business, and such as have no
Noyes v. Smith & Lee,
known bad habits, such as intoxication, and the like. 5 Exch. 354; 6 Barber 231; 1 Amer. L. C. 620, 3 Ed.; 10 Mees. & Welsb. 109; 12 Adolph. & Ellis 737.
Peck & Colby for the defendants.
The question here presented has been discussed and the right of action denied, in cases where the subject came collaterally before the court. This was so in Ryan v. Cumberland Valley R. Co., Penn. Sup. Ct. 1854; Liv. L. J., Apr. 1855. And our courts have repeatedly, as in that case, held employers exempt from liability for injuries occasioned to one servant by the carelessness of another servant, that being a risk voluntarily incurred as an incident to the employment. Hager v. West. R. Co., 3 Cush. 270; Farwell v. Boston & Worcester R. Co., 4 Met. 49; 6 Barbour 231; 15 Barbour 574; Brown v. Maxwell, 6 Hill 592; Albro v. Agawam Canal Co., 6 Cush. 75. And the same principle will defeat the plaintiff's action here, for if the master is liable for having a defective machine in his service, it would seem he should be liable for having a careless or incompetent servant.
But in England the question has been twice decided. Priestly v. Fowler, 3 Mees. & Welsb. 1; Couch v. Steele, 24 Eng. L. & Eq. 77.
The opinion of the court was delivered, at the circuit session in September, 1856, by
ISHAM, J. This case comes before the court on a general demurrer to the declaration. The plaintiff, it is averred, was injured by the explosion of a locomotive engine, on which he was employed by the defendants, as engineer. It is admitted that the engine was insufficiently stayed or bolted around the fire box, and that it was also insufficient and unsafe in other respects, but that both parties were ignorant of those defects, and had no notice in fact that it was in an unsafe or insecure condition. That fact is directly averred in relation to the plaintiff, and the defendants are not charged with any such notice by any averment in the declaration. It is averred, however, that these defects would have been known to the defendants, but for the want of all proper care and diligence on their part. The inquiry arises, whether the facts stated are sufficient to
Noyes v. Smith & Lee.
enable the plaintiff to recover; it being admitted that the plaintiff was in the exercise of proper skill and diligence when he was injured.
The general rule seems to be well settled by the authorities, that there is nothing growing out of the mere relation of master and servant that raises the duty stated in the declaration. When there is no actual notice of defects in an engine of that character, and no personal blame exists on the part of the master, there is no implied obligation or contract on his part that the engine is free from defects, or that it can safely be used by the servant. The law imposes no such obligation. There are risks and dangers incident to most employments, and, especially is this true, in relation to such services as those in which the plaintiff was engaged. Those risks the parties have in view when engagements for services are made, and in consideration of which the rate of compensation is fixed. In all engagements of that character, the servant assumes those risks which are incident to his service, and, as between himself and his master, he is supposed to have contracted on those terms. If an injury is sustained by the servant, in that service, it is regarded as an accident, a mere casualty, and the misfortune must rest on him. That is the doctrine, and the extent of the cases, to which we were referred by the defendant's counsel. In the case of Priestly v. Fowler, 3 Mees. & Welsb. 1, it was held that the master was not liable to his servant for an injury sustained by him, from the breaking down of an overloaded van. Lord Abinger in that case observed, that “from the mere relation of master and servant
no contract, and therefore no duty, can be implied on the part of " the master to cause the servant to be safely and securely carried,
or to make the master liable for damage to the servant, arising “ from any vice or imperfection unknown to the master, in the car“riage or in the mode of conducting or loading it.”
The same doctrine is sustained in Seymour v. Madox, 5 Eng. L. & Eq. 265, and in the case of Couch v. Steel, 24 Eng. L. & Eq. 77. The principle, which is now well settled in England and this country, “that a master is not liable to his servant for an injury occasioned “by the negligence of a fellow servant, in the course of their com
mon employment,” is founded upon the same reason. The liability of one servant to be injured by the carelessness of another, is