Sivut kuvina

Opinion of the Court.

would he be allowed to prove, unless he had a contract to that effect, that his prospects of promotion to a higher grade and better salary were good, and would the jury be allowed to base their calculation and estimate of the damages upon a much larger salary which he never received, but merely had a prospect of receiving? It will be observed that the testimony in this case shows that there were two others in the same class with Allison, equally competent and efficient as he was, and it is by no means certain that Allison would have been preferred to each of them in case of vacancy, and promoted above them; so it could not be said that he was in direct line of promotion." And this decision is in harmony with the general course of rulings. Brown v. Cummings, 7 Allen, 507; Brown v. Chicago, Rock Island &c. Railway, 64 Iowa, 652; Chase v. Burlington, Cedar Rapids &c. Railroad, 76 Iowa, 675. For this error, which it may well be believed worked substantial injury to the rights of the defendant, the judgment will have to be reversed.

Another matter is this: The injury was caused by the explosion of the boiler of an engine, and it is insisted that the testimony shows that the engine was handled properly and carefully; that the defect in the iron casting of the domering, which, after the explosion, was found to have existed, was a defect which could not with the exercise of reasonable care have been discovered by the company; and that it took all reasonable and proper care to test the boiler and engine, and from such test no defect was discovered. Hence the contention is, that the court should have instructed the jury to find a verdict for the defendant. Perhaps, in view of what may be developed on a new trial, it is not well to comment on the testimony in respect to these matters. Whether there was negligence in respect to the accumulation of steam is a question of fact, involving, first, the capacity of the boiler, the amount of steam which had accumulated, and the precautions which were taken to prevent its going above a certain pressure. With regard to the defect in the iron casting, which seems to have been revealed by the explosion, it may be said that it is not necessarily the duty of a purchaser of

Opinion of the Court.

machinery, whether simple or complicated, to tear it to pieces to see if there be not some latent defect. If he purchases from a manufacturer of recognized standing, he is justified in assuming that in the manufacture proper care was taken, and that proper tests were made of the different parts of the machinery, and that as delivered to him it is in a fair and reasonable condition for use. We do not mean to say that it is never the duty of a purchaser to make tests or examinations of his own, or that he can always and wholly rely upon the assumption that the manufacturer has fully and sufficiently tested. It may be, and doubtless often is, his duty when placing the machine in actual use to subject it to ordinary tests for determining its strength and efficiency. Applying these rules, if the railroad company after purchasing this engine made such reasonable examination as was possible without tearing the machinery to pieces, and subjected it fully to all the ordinary tests which are applied for determining the efficiency and strength of completed engines, and such examination and tests had disclosed no defect, it cannot in an action by one who is a stranger to the company be adjudged guilty of negligence because there was a latent defect, one which subsequently caused the destruction of the engine and injury to such party. We do not think it necessary or proper to go into a full discussion of the facts, but content ourselves with stating simply the general rules of law applicable thereto.

For the error first above noticed, the judgment will be

Reversed and the case remanded with instructions to grant a new trial.

Statement of the Case.



No. 233. Submitted April 21, 1893. Decided May 1, 1895.

When the defendant in an action of trespass brought by the United States against him for cutting and carrying away timber from public lands admits the doing of those acts, the plaintiffs are entitled to at least nominal damages in the absence of direct evidence as to the value of the standing trees.

It is not to be presumed in such case as matter of course that the government permitted the trespass, and any instruction by the court pointing that way is error.

THIS action was commenced by the filing of a complaint on May 6, 1884, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, in which complaint it was alleged that the plaintiff was the owner, in 1879, of a certain tract of land in the county of Fresno, State of California, describing it, upon which tract of land were growing trees; that during that year the defendant unlawfully and wrongfully cut down and carried off certain of these trees, to wit, five hundred pine trees, and manufactured them into lumber, producing 1,500,000 feet of lumber, of the value of $15,000, for which sum judgment was asked. Defendant answered with a general denial. The case was tried before a jury in April, 1888. On the trial it appeared, from the testimony of defendant as well as that of other witnesses, that in 1879 defendant had built a saw-mill adjoining the tract, and operated it for a little less than three months; that it had a capacity of about ten thousand feet board measure a day; that he had five white men and two or three Indians employed at the mill; and that the timber was cut in the vicinity of the mill. The defendant also admitted that he knew that the tract described in the complaint was government land, and that he did not at any time enter it as a homestead or preëmption, and that a portion,


Statement of the Case.

though only a small portion, of the timber which he sawed, was cut from that tract. There was the further testimony on the part of the government of two timber agents, that after the commencement of this action they went upon the land and counted the number of stumps, and found 814 stumps of pine trees, of the diameter of from two to three feet. There was also given in evidence an estimate of the amount of lumber that would be made from a tree of the size indicated by such stumps. There was evidence tending to show the price and value of lumber in that vicinity in the year 1879, but not of the value of standing trees. In its instructions the court referred to the estimate made by the timber agents of the amount of lumber that would have been manufactured from the timber cut upon the premises, and the admission made by the defendant that he had cut some timber, stated that there was no testimony that he had cut all the timber that had been cut thereon, and that the jury had no right to guess, and that unless proof had been offered which created a reasonable certainty in their minds as to the amount of timber cut by the defendant, and its value, the verdict must be for the defendant, and then proceeded as follows:

"There are two elements entering into these cases. This is an action of trespass, a tort. It is wrong for one person to go on another person's land and cut and remove timber without the consent of the owner; so the going of any person on the public domain and cutting and removing from it timber without the consent of the government is wrong, just as much as if I went on any of your ranches or vineyards, cut and removed the crops without your consent. But there is a vast difference in the character and quality of actions. A gentleman may permit the public to use a portion of his domain as a highway for years, and as long as it is being done with his tacit consent nobody would be held a trespasser for doing so; but when he notifies the public that it must cease, then that tacit right ceases, and anybody who went on there might be justly held as a trespasser. The history of the country in regard to trespassing on the public domain and cutting timber for the use of the people in building their homes upon their farms and for

Statement of the Case.

general domestic purposes may be considered. As I observed, the government is the proprietor of the soil. It has always owned the soil and the timber on it and the mines beneath it; but it is a matter of common knowledge in this country that the country could not have been settled up otherwise than by the practice and custom which has grown up in advance of legislation.

"It is a matter of history that the government permitted the early pioneers, as they went ahead to make their homes for themselves, to go on the public domain and take such timber as was necessary for domestic use, and although there never was any law or license to that effect, it was done with the knowledge of every department of the government — legislative, judicial, and executive. The earliest law that was passed that I remember was in 1833, forbidding, under pains and penalties, the entering on lands that had been reserved on which there were valuable forests of live oak and pine for ship-building. It is possible that there was other legislation following that, but I do not remember any until 1878, and during all that time every department of the government knew how the country was being settled, and that men went on and felled trees with this tacit permission, or, if there was not a tacit permission, at least there was no reprehension of their acts. In this case, in order to judge wisely and fairly of this defendant as to whether he was a wanton trespasser, you will have to take into consideration the concurrent circumstances surrounding his acts. While I wish you to understand that I am not aware of any license having ever been given in the last sixty years to any party to go on the public domain and cut timber, no court has ever held, and no court would be justified in holding, that these men were all criminals who went on and put up a little mill for the purpose of aiding their neighbors in procuring lumber for domestic purposes. I say you will not judge correctly whether these men were wilful and wanton trespassers in the sense in which a trespass is wilful and wanton, unless you take into account the contemporaneous history of the country and these matters, which are familiar to you all. If this party was a wilful

« EdellinenJatka »