Sandys v Harrison

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date21 December 1926
Docket Number(1924. No. 8,034.)
Date21 December 1926

Supreme Court.

(1924. No. 8,034.)
Sandys v. Harrison.
HILDA SANDYS
Plaintiff
JOHN C. HARRISON, Defendant (1)

Negligence - Collision between motor-cycle and motor-car - Contributory negligence - Defendant able to avoid accident notwithstanding plaintiff's negligence - Defendant taking wrong measures to avoid accident in emergency caused by plaintiff's negligence - Extent of obligation on defendant - Defendant unaware at time of impact that collision had occurred - Evidence of want of care in driving motor-car - Contradictory findings by the jury - Insufficiency of Judge's direction to jury.

Motion that the judgment entered for the plaintiff be set aside, and that judgment be entered for the defendant.

The action was brought to recover damages for injuries caused to the plaintiff by the defendant by reason of the defendant's negligent and unskilful management and driving of a motor-car. The plaintiff, on August 2nd, 1924, was travelling towards Bray on a motor-bicycle, with a side-car attached, upon the main road which runs between Enniskerry and Bray. The defendant was driving a motor-car on the same road in the direction of Enniskerry. The road crosses the River Dargle by a bridge, known as St. Valerie Bridge, constructed almost at right angles to the road, and, as a consequence, the road has a dangerous corner at both ends of the bridge. At a point in the road in close proximity to the bridge a collision occurred between the two vehicles. The plaintiff's case was that the defendant did not keep to his proper side of the road when travelling over the bridge, but that he cut clean across it from left to right, and thereby came over to his wrong side of the road; and, when so travelling, and when passing the plaintiff, the spare wheel which he carried on the left-hand side of his car caught the left handlebar of the plaintiff's motor-cycle, and occasioned the injuries and damage complained of. The defendant's case was that he kept to his proper side of the road, which was 22 feet wide, with his off wheel bearing on the middle of it, thus leaving the plaintiff a clear 11 feet to move in, and he himself a clear 5 feet to his left-hand side; and that the accident was due to the failure of the plaintiff when approaching the bridge to properly control her motor-cycle, and to take the bend of the road leading up to it; that, instead of doing so, she "cut" the bend, deflected over the road, and, as a consequence of this negligence, struck the rear mudguard of the defendant's motor-car with her motor-cycle. The defendant admitted in his evidence that, at the time of the accident, he did not know that the two vehicles had come into contact. The further facts are set out in the judgment of Murnaghan J.

The questions put to the jury were as follows:—

1. "Was the defendant negligent on the occasion in question?"

2. "If yes, were the injuries complained of caused thereby?"

3. "Was the plaintiff negligent on the occasion in question?"

4. "If yes, could the defendant, by the exercise of ordinary care and caution, have avoided the consequences of such negligence?"

5. "Assess damages."

The jury retired, but returned to Court, and the foreman said to the Judge:—"What we want to know is, if we answer the first question 'No,' does the second question not arise?"And the Judge replied "It does not."

In reply to further questions, the Judge told the jury that an answer "Yes" to questions 3 and 4 would amount to a verdict for the plaintiff.

The jury then answered the questions as follows:—

1. "Was the defendant negligent on the occasion in question?"Answer: "No."

2. "If yes, were the injuries complained of caused thereby?"No answer.

3. "Was the plaintiff negligent on the occasion in question?"Answer: "Yes."

4. "If yes, could the defendant, by the exercise of ordinary care and caution, have avoided the consequences of such negligence?"Answer: "Yes."

5. "Assess damages." Answer: "Two hundred and fifty pounds."

The Judge then put the question to the jury: "Was the accident caused thereby, gentlemen?" And the foreman replied:"Oh, yes."

Upon these findings judgment was entered for the plaintiff, with costs.

The defendant applied to have the judgment set aside, and that judgment be entered for him.

The grounds relied on in support of the motion were as follows:—

(a) That on the findings of the jury the learned Judge should have entered judgment for the defendant.

(b) The jury having answered questions 1, 3, 4, and 5, the learned Judge was wrong in law in submitting question 6 to them.

(c) That the answers of the jury to questions 3 and 4 did not entitle the plaintiff to judgment.

(d) Alternatively, that the answers of the jury to questions 3, 4, and 6 did not entitle the plaintiff to judgment.

(e) That the findings of the jury to questions 4 and 6 were against the evidence and the weight of evidence.

Plaintiff was driving her motor-cycle and defendant his motor-car on the public road in opposite directions. In passing, the motor-car collided with the handlebar of the motor-cycle, and plaintiff was injured. The collision occurred where a bridge crosses a river almost at right angles to the road, making a dangerous turning on the road at each end of the bridge. Plaintiff had only recently acquired her motor-cycle. She stated that defendant did not keep to his proper side of the bridge, but cut across, and, after passing the bridge, continued on her side of the road. Defendant stated that he kept to his proper side of the...

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