Tanner vs. Norfolk and Western, 1902

Mrs. Tanner Awarded $800 Damages

Supreme Court Upheld Decision of Lower Tribunal in Damage Suit Against N & W.

Two More Cases Growing Out of Narrows Wreck now Pending.

The supreme court has, by an opinion delivered the 12th instant, in Wytheville, affirmed the judgment of the circuit court of Giles county, in the case of Mrs. Jennie Lee Tanner, formerly of Bluefield, against the Norfolk and Western Railway Company. The counsel for the plaintiff in this case were Lee & Howard, of Lynchburg, and W.J. Henson, of Pearisburg.

Mrs. Tanner was riding upon a free pass from this city to Richmond, Va., September 6, 1899, upon which was the usual condition waiving all liability for injuries received on account of negligence of the company or its servants. Near Narrows, in Giles county, the track of the railroad was defective, causing some of the cars of the train on which Mrs. Tanner was a passenger to be turned over. She received injuries about the head and face. She thereupon instituted suit in the circuit court of Giles county against the company and the jury in the case returned a verdict allowing $800 damages, the court giving judgment for it. The case was appealed by the railroad company, and owing to its importance was removed from Wytheville to Richmond for its early hearing. It was argued at the last term of the supreme court in Richmond and the court has had it under consideration ever since until its decision in Wytheville last week, when it unanimously affirmed the judgment of the lower court. Messrs. Lee & Howard and Henson have now pending in Giles circuit court two more cases, arising out of the same accident, of passengers injured, who were also riding on free passes, and whose cases in that respect will be determined by the decision in this case, they being held in abeyance for the decision of the supreme court in the Tanner case.

When it is remembered that the Norfolk and Western Railway Company is in the habit of requiring passengers in the some of its trains, especially on the Pocahontas division, to sign agreements for the waiver of damages, the decision of this question will come home to such passengers as a matter of much importance as well as of convenience. To the legal fraternity it is a case of striking interest as it is the first time that the supreme court of Virginia has passed upon this or any similar question.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 20 June 1902

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