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or increased by construction or in any indirect manner beyond the amount specified by law.1
§ 372. A statute which declared that "in all actions to recover damages for torts the plaintiff shall recover no more costs than damages, where such damages do not exceed five dollars," was held not to authorize the court in such a case to render judgment against him for the residue of the costs.2 Statutes for the discharge of insolvent debtors are in derogation of the rights of the creditor, and should on principle be construed strictly. Lord Holt said: "Let a statute be ever so charitable, if it gives away the property of the subject it ought not to be countenanced." So it has been held of exemptions from execution. There is in the purpose and policy of exemption and homestead statutes considerations which make them remedial, and which neutralize the principle of strict construction. In a Michigan case it was said that such statutes, being remedial, and resting on a wise policy, should, as far as practicable, be construed beneficially to the debtor." A statute which subjects one man's property to be affected by, charged or forfeited for the acts of another, on grounds of public policy, should be strictly construed; it cannot be done by implication. So of a statute which deprives passengers riding on the platform of cars of compensation for injuries.
§ 373. Another notable example of statutory liability is that imposed on vendors of intoxicating liquors for injuries resulting from intoxication, and on lessors of property occupied for
1 Walker v. Sheftall, 73 Ga. 806; Adams v. Abram, 38 Mich. 302; Van Horne v. Petrie, 2 Cai. 213; Briggs v. Allen, 4 Hill, 538; Farrington v. Rennie, 2 Cai. 220; Van Hovenburgh v. Case, 4 Hill, 541; Vielie v. Towers, Colman & Cai. 90; Dockstader v. Sammons, 4 Hill, 546; Clark v. Dewey, 5 Johns. 251. Where the words of a statute prescribing the compensation of a public officer are loose and obscure, and admit of two interpretations, they should be construed in favor of the officer. United States v. Morse, 3 Story, 87.
"Ivey v. McQueen, 17 Ala. 408.
The liability is expressed in very general and absolute terms, and the liberality or conservatism of construction is illustrated in the recognition or rejection of items or classes of damages claimed, within the broad range of the declared liability; in the lax or stringent application of common-law rules to the allowance and estimate of compensation and to the procedure for its recovery.
These acts give certain enumerated persons standing in some relation to the person from whose intoxication or habitual inebriety proceeds injury to means of support or otherwise, a right of action for compensatory damages, and often exemplary damages. The remedial element in this legislation is a potent factor in the interpretation of its general language; consequently the conservative principle of strict construction of a statutory liability has to a great extent received secondary consideration. The courts have aimed to give effect to and carry out the humane and ameliorating policy of these laws; and while they do not transcend their letter, they do not greatly restrict their broad terms. In a case of this nature the court said: "It cannot be doubted that the statute which we are considering comes within the class of remedial statutes, nor that under the above authorities we have ample warrant, were it necessary, for giving it the most liberal construction in the interest of justice and humanity." The Michigan statute enumerates as entitled to sue "every wife, child, parent, guardian, husband or other person." inebriate himself was held not included, and not entitled to recover for money stolen from him while drunk. He is presumably injured in all cases, and the remedy should not be extended to him unless the intent to do so is unequivocally expressed. It was held that the general words "or other person," following the enumeration, must be understood to extend according to the general principle to persons of the
51 Ind. 489; Jackson v. Noble, 54 Iowa, 641; Medbury v. Watson, 6 Met. 246; Thorpe v. R. & B. R. Co. 27 Vt. 140; In re Jacobs, 98 N. Y. 98.
1 Bertholf v. O'Reilly, 74 N. Y. 509; McGee v. McCann, 69 Me. 79; Hill v.
Berry, 75 N. Y. 229; Meyers v. Kirt, 57 Iowa, 421.
2 Buckmaster v. McElroy, 20 Neb. 557.
3 Sedgwick, 274; Dean and Chapter of York v. Middleburgh, 2 Y. & J. 196. 4 Brooks v. Cook, 44 Mich. 617.
same general character, sort or kind as those named. From this it might be supposed that the injured person must stand in some relation to the intoxicated person. It had been intimated in a previous case2 that strangers are embraced in the same clause with guardians, relatives, husbands and wives. In a very late case it was held that these general words were intended to cover all persons injured in person or property by the intoxicated person. As "parent" a mother may sue for damages to her, at least in the absence of evidence that there is a father. Where the right of recovery is confined to injury to person, property or means of support, as in New York, a father, though one of the persons enumerated to sue, cannot maintain the action if there is no injury to person or property, unless the case shows that he was dependent on the son. But in Massachusetts, an adult son, not dependent on the father, when he has given notice forbidding sales to the latter, may maintain a suit, for the statute implies that other damages than to person, property or means of support may be recovered. The statute contemplates that the habitual drunkenness of a husband or wife, parent or child, is a substantial injury to those bound together in domestic relations, and gives a right to recover damages in the nature of a penalty not only for injury to the person or property, but for shame and disgrace brought upon them. An Iowa statute declares a liability for compensation" to any person who may take charge of and provide for such intoxicated person." This provision was held not to include a physician who treated professionally one who was injured while intoxicated.'
$374. As to injuries for which damages may be recovered there is considerable differences in the statutes, and, as might be expected, noticeable contrariety of decision. It is essential where recoveries are allowed for injuries that there be actual damage. The right of action does not spring from the
Citing Hawkins v. Great W. R'y Co. 17 Mich. 57; McDade v. People, 29 id. 50.
4 McNeil v. Collinson, 130 Mass. 167. 5 Stevens v. Cheney, 36 Hun, 1.
6 Taylor v. Carroll, 145 Mass. 95.
2 Ganssly v. Perkins, 30 Mich. 492, See Friend v. Dunks, 37 Mich. 25.
3 Flower v. Witkovsky, 69 Mich. 371; English v. Beard, 51 Ind. 489.
Sansom v. Greenough, 55 Iowa,
stated relationships alone; and though the statute may in terms authorize, in addition to compensation, exemplary damages, the latter will not be allowed unless there is actual injury. Where the damage alleged is to the person, physical injury must be shown; it is not enough that opprobrious language was used. And to justify the award of exemplary damages, such circumstances of aggravation must be proven as are on general principles of the common law sufficient to authorize their allowance. They will not be permitted unless the act of giving or selling the intoxicating drinks was wilful, wanton, reckless, or otherwise deserving of punishment beyond what the requirements of compensation would impose." In Ohio, however, a different rule has been announced. In that state it has been held that in all actions in which the plaintiff shows a right to recover damages actually sustained, the jury may also assess exemplary damages without proof of actual malice or other special circumstances of aggravation. Such damages only as are the natural and proximate consequence of the cause mentioned in the statute are allowed. General principles of the common law govern in their ascertainment." They are not, however, confined to the direct and immediate consequences of intoxication, or the habit of drunkenness. The statutes give damages for injuries resulting therefrom to person, property, means of support, and in some cases there is added, “or otherwise." A natural interpretation necessarily extends the right of recovery to consequential injuries as they affect the subjects mentioned. It is not deemed to be the intention of the statute to narrow damages to injuries from the liquor alone, exclusive of other agency. That would fall short
1 Ganssly v. Perkins, 30 Mich. 493; Calloway v. Laydon, 47 Iowa, 456. 2 Calloway v. Laydon, supra.
3 Kadgin v. Miller, 13 Ill. App. 474; Kreiter v. Nichols, 28 Mich. 496; Meidel v. Anthis, 71 Ill. 241; Hackett v. Smelsley, 77 id. 109; Rawlins v. Vidvard, 34 Hun, 205; Davis v. Standish, 26 id. 608, 616; Neu v. McKechnie, 95 N. Y. 632; Roose v. Perkins, 9 Neb. 304, 315; Bates v. Davis, 76 Ill. 222; Koerner v. Oberly, 56 Ind. 284; Schafer v. Smith, 63 Ind. 226; McCarty
v. Wells, 51 Hun, 171; Ketcham v. Fox, 52 id. 284.
4 Schneider v. Hosier, 21 Ohio St. 98. 5 Barks v. Woodruff, 12 Ill. App. 96; Tetzner v. Naughton, id. 148; Shugart v. Egan, 83 Ill. 56; Emory v. Addis, 71 id. 273; Hackett v. Smelsley, 77 id. 109; Schmidt v. Mitchell, 84 id. 195; Schroder v. Crawford, 94 id. 357; Mulford v. Clewell, 21 Ohio St. 191; Neu v. McKechnie, 95 N. Y. 632; Friend v. Dunks, 37 Mich. 25; Ganssly v. Perkins, 30 id. 492, 495.
of the remedy intended to be given. These statutes are designed for a practical end, to give a substantial remedy, and should be allowed to have effect according to their natural and obvious meaning. The act of selling or giving away liquor to a drunkard, thereby making him drunk, is made by the legislature identical with creating the state of drunkenness which, in fact, ensues from the drinking. The party who thus furnishes the means of intoxication, and others who, like renters of premises for that use, abet it, are treated as represented causally in that intoxication; that they do by the intoxicated person the injury to person, property and means of support which naturally and proximately results from the intoxication.2
§ 375. But the consequences must spring from the cause mentioned in the statute, not from some other fortuitous circumstance, or the act of another person. A wife cannot maintain an action for damages for an injury received by her from falling on a slippery sidewalk while following her intoxicated husband to see where he obtained liquor.3 Injuries to the person or property of another committed by the intoxicated person, acting on the perverted impulses or frenzies of intoxication, are recoverable. And so far as the cause mentioned in the statute, intoxication or the habit, impairs the means of support by diminishing the capacity of the intoxicated person to earn money or prudently husband it, or by inducing him to squander it, an action will lie for the loss." Means of support relate to the future as well as to the present. In maintaining an action for loss of it, it must appear that in consequence of the intoxication or the acts of the intoxicated person the plaintiff's accustomed means of maintenance have been cut off or curtailed, or that he has been reduced to a state of dependence by being deprived of the support which he had before enjoyed. Where the death of the intoxicated person ensues from the intoxication as proximate cause, it is held in some 1 Schroder v. Crawford, 94 Ill. 357, Booth, 57 Mich. 249; English v. Beard, 361. 51 Ind. 489; Dunlap v. Wagner, 85 id. 529.
2 See Schafer v. State, 49 Ind. 460. 3 Johnson v. Drummond, 16 Ill. App. 641.
4 King v. Haley, 86 Ill. 106; Reed v. Thompson, 88 id. 245; Engleken v. Hilger, 43 Iowa, 563; Wilson v.
6 Volans v. Owen, 74 N. Y. 526; Mulford v. Clewell, 21 Ohio St. 191; Warrick v. Rounds, 17 Neb. 411.