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(187 N. C. 832, 123 S. E. 92.) Clarkson, J., delivered the opinion in a sling for eighteen weeks, and as of the court:
a result of this injury I have just Upon a motion as of nonsuit upon the same feeling in my hand as you
the evidence, the would have in your foot when it Trial-motion for nonsuit
evidence must be has been asleep. It is a tingle, and, consideration
considered in the as I say, a spasmodic condition of of evidence.
light most favorable tingling, and it is very painful in to the plaintiff.
cold weather. Sometimes I can The plaintiff testified: “The iron scarcely move my arms. It was cuswas connected by the electrician of tomary at the Piedmont Theater at the house. When I took hold of the that time for members of the comiron I started getting a severe shock. pany to press a wardrobe in the I found I was grounded both feet, theater at each change of the bill. and I could not release the iron, and The pressing was done by an elecI immediately started screaming for tric iron, and this particular week help. The electrician came and he the electric iron was connected just rushed up to the socket and tried to on the entrance of the stage door. turn it off; when he touched the The connection was customarily socket it began sputtering, and made to the light socket, and this started spitting little flames, and connection of the iron to the socket knocked him over against the dress- was made by an electrician on the ing room. He ran upstairs to the day I was injured. He was supswitchboard. At that time in the posed to be, to the best of my knowlPiedmont Theater they had a switch- edge, in charge of the electric apboard with all the switches on it, paratus of the Piedmont Theater. and he tried to relieve me from the He was the man who had actual iron by throwing the lever. All the charge of the switchboard in the time I was grounded, and I was get theater. He said it would be all ting this full shock. This whole side right to press, and that he would of my right arm, my right side, and connect the iron for me; for me to my right limbs had given way. It get the sheet on which I wanted to was going up into my heart, and I iron, and use the table that he had thought any moment I was going to put below the socket. I used the meet death, and I started screaming. table, and received the injury at that He shouted to the operator to cut it table immediately. It was when I off, but I have been told since that started to take hold nf the iron. Of the operator was deaf and dumb, course, after he connected it, the and of course he could not hear the iron was left to heat, but it was upelectrician, and then the electrician on my taking hold of the iron." ran to the front of the house. I The measure of care required is can't say just how the current was stated in 20 C. J. p. 341, § 36, as cut off. When I was released I follows: "The measure or degree fainted and was unconscious. I was of care required of electric compataken over to the doctor's, and there nies is variously stated as usual and I suffered shock and chills, and I ordinary care; reasonable care; such found my finger had been severely care as a reasonably prudent man burned. I was then taken over to my would exercise under the circumhotel, or rooming house, and there stances; care commensurate with or I suffered shock and chills, and it proportionate to the danger; high has been a wreck to my system ever degree of diligence and foresight; since. I have been in a terrible con- all that human care, vigilance, and dition, and I can hardly use my right foresight can reasonably do; all the arm and right hand in cold weath- foresight and caution which can be er, and I have a spasmodic condi- reasonably expected of men under tion left in my right arm and hand similar circumstances, every pro-it quivers all the time; I have very tection accessible to prevent danger; little use of it. I carried my hand the utmost degree of care; a high degree of care; a very high degree of National Board of Fire Underwritcare; the highest degree of care ers for Electric Wiring and Appawhich skill and foresight can obtain, ratus.” It covers the entire electric consistent with the practical conduct territory, including heating appliof their business under the known ances. methods and present state of the Consol. Stat. § 2763, is as follows: particular art; the care required to "The electric wiring of houses or prevent injury; such care and cau- buildings for lighting or for other tion as to protect the public, and purposes shall conform to the reguespecially those who might be called lations prescribed by the organizaupon to come near or in contact with tion known as National Board of wires, from dangers they could not Fire Underwriters. In order to prosee and which they might readily ect the property of citizens from the overlook. Reasonable care does not dangers incident to defective elecrequire such precautions as will ab- tric wiring of buildings, it shall be solutely prevent injury or render unlawful for any firm or corporaaccidents impossible. By 'utmost tion to allow any electric current for care and skill' is meant the highest the purpose of illuminating any degree of care and skill known, building belonging to any person, which may be used under the same firm, or corporation to be turned on or similar circumstances. One us- without first having had an inspecing electric currents must take into tion made of the wiring by the buildaccount the acts of strangers and of ing inspector and having received the public generally."
from the inspector a certificate apElectric appliances are becoming proving the wiring of such building. more in use each day. The old meth
It shall be unlawful for any person, ods are giving way to the new. firm, or corporation engaged in the These appliances are used for iron- business of selling electricity to furing, cooking, washing, heating, etc. nish any electric current for use for The North and South Carolina Pub- illuminating purposes in any buildlic Utility Information Bureau ing or buildings of any person, firm, states that there are now some fifty- or corporation, unless the said buildtwo electric appliances that can be ing or buildings have been first inused in the home and elsewhere, spected by the inspector of buildings such as electric ranges, bake ovens, and a certificate given as above prosewing machine motors, washing vided. The fee that shall be allowed machines, churns, disk stoves, dish said inspector of buildings for the washers, fireless cookers, fans, work of such inspection of electrical grills, ironing machines, etc. Many wiring shall be one dollar for each new uses will yet be discovered. building inspected, to be paid by the These appliances can be purchased person applying for the inspection." at all the leading electric power Consol. Stat. § 2764, provides for stores. These appliances have been quarterly inspection of buildings in of great benefit and use, and saving the fire limits. Consol. Stat. $ 2765, of time and money, to the women in provides for annual inspection of all the home and in other places. Elec- buildings in corporate limits. Contricity is recognized as an invisible sol. Stat. $ 2766, provides for record force, subtle, with dangerous char- of inspection. acteristics. It is important to en- The state has an electrical inspeccourage the use of the electric ap- tor. The cities of the state have pliances, but it is necessary that city electricians, and ordinances rethis invisible and subtle force shall quiring persons to be examined and be carefully guarded. With this licensed touching their electrical knowledge of danger, the National knowledge and ability before they Fire Protection Association, in 1923, can follow this calling. These elecrecommended a “national electric tric ordinances in sundry and divers code,” known as “Regulations of the ways make regulations for safety.
(187 N. C. 832, 123 8. E. 92.) The Southern Public Utilities Com sistent with the practical operation pany, under the authority given it, of its plant. So it is something produces and sells electricity as a more, under the law, as the court commercial product. Being engaged understands it, than ordinary care; in the manufacture and handling of it is the highest care." so dangerous a commodity as elec- Hoke, J., in the Turner Case, sutricity, it is important that the pub- pra, at page 137, said: "The prelic which buys and uses this com- siding judge charged the jury that modity know and have confidence if the injuries resulted by reason of that in the distribution of this in- defective apparatus or appliances visible and subtle power, in the existent within the building, they home and elsewhere, the supply will would render their verdict for debe safe and convenient in form for fendants, and in effect excluded domestic and other purposes, and from the consideration of the jury that every reasonable safeguard will any and all imputation of wrong exElectricity
be provided against cept that which might arise by readegree of care danger. In the dis- son of an excess of voltage trans
tribution it must be mitted into the building over the held to the highest degree of care. wires of defendants and by reason
The Southern Public Utilities of negligent default on the part of Company, in its brief, contends: the company or their agents. This "Neither the allegations of the plain- being true, on the facts in evidence, tiff's complaint nor her evidence the case permits and calls for an apbring her case within the doctrine plication of the doctrine of res ipsa of res ipsa loquitur so as to give loquitur and requires that the quesrise to any inference of negligence tion of defendant's responsibility against the defendant Southern Pub- should be determined by the jury. lic Utilities Company. The plaintiff This doctrine has been discussed relies upon the doctrine of res ipsa and applied in several recent cases loquitur as declared and applied in before this court, as in Dail v. Taythe cases of Turner v. Southern lor, 151 N. C. 284, 28 L.R.A.(N.S.) Power Co. 154 N. C. 131, 32 L.R.A. 949, 66 S. E. 135; Fitzgerald v. (N.S.) 848, 69 S. E. 767, and Shaw Southern R. Co. 141 N. C. 530, 6 v. Public Serv. Corp. 168 N. C. 611, L.R.A. (N.S.) 337, 54 S. E. 391; 84 S. E. 1010. The defendant South- Ross v. Double Shoals Cotton Mills, ern Public Utilities Company also 140 N. C. 115, 1 L.R.A.(N.S.) 298, relies upon these two cases.
52 S. E. 121; Stewart v. Van DeFrom the allegations of the com- venter Carpet Co. 138 N. C. 66, 50
plaint and evidence S. E. 562; Womble v. Merchants -sufficiencyInjury by elec- of the plaintiff, we Grocery Co. 135 N. C. 474, 47 S. E. tricity.
think the evidence is 493." sufficient to be submitted to the jury Walker, J., in the Shaw Case, under the Turner and Shaw Cases, supra, at page 617, quotes with apsupra.
proval from Mitchell v. Raleigh In the Turner Case the charge of Electric Co. 129 N. C. 169, 55 L.R.A. the court below, which was ap- 398, 85 Am. St. Rep. 735, 39 S. E. proved, is as follows: “That while 801, as follows: "The defendant the law does not regard an electric company was engaged in the busilight company an insurer against ness of manufacturing, producing, injury, such a company owes to its leasing, and selling light made from patrons the duty to protect them the use of electricity, which is the from injury, by exercising the high- most deadly and dangerous power est skill, most consummate care and recognized as a necessary agency in caution, and the utmost diligence developing our civilization and proand foresight in the construction, moting our comfort and business afmaintenance, and inspection of its fairs. It differs from all other danplant and appliances obtainable, con- gerous utilities. Its association is with the most inoffensive and harm- and appliances used for electricless piece of mechanism, if wire can lighting purposes within their own be classified as such, in common use. houses, and which are owned by In adhering to the wire, it gives no them, and over which they have enwarning or knowledge of its deadly tire control, and where the only conpresence; vision cannot detect it; nection between the company and it is without color, motion, or body; the person using the lights is a conlatently and without sound it ex- tract between them and the comists, and, being odorless, the only pany for the company to connect its means of its discovery lies in the system with the inside wiring of sense of feeling, communicated such parties and to deliver a current through the touch of a person, for their use, in the absence of which as soon as done, he becomes knowledge on the part of the comits victim. In behalf of human life pany of the defective condition of and the safety of mankind, it be- the wiring and appliances of such hooves those who would profit by parties. In such a state of case the the use of this subtle and violent company would not owe such perelement of nature to exercise the sons any duty of inspection of their greatest degree of care and constant wiring or appliances. Although such vigilance in inspecting and main- inside wiring and appliances were taining the wires in perfect condi- defective, this would not excuse the tion."
company for injuries arising from The learned judge quotes on page its sending into the house a danger618, further, with approval: “The ous current of electricity, and withmaxim ‘res ipsa loquitur' applies in out which the defects in the inside many cases, for the affair speaks wiring and apparatus would have for itself. It is not that in any case been harmless." (Italics ours.) negligence can be assumed from the The Kentucky court, in the same mere fact of an accident and an in- case, at page 56, lays down the same jury, but in these cases the sur- principle as has been enunciated by rounding circumstances which are this court: necessarily brought into view, by “While an electric light company showing how the accident occurred, is not an insurer of the safety of its contain, without further proof, suf- patrons, nor of people who may ficient evidence of the defendant's come in contact with its wires and duty and of his neglect to perform its apparatus while at places at it. The fact of the casualty and the which they have a right to be, and attendant circumstances may them
engaged in the performance of selves furnish all the proof that the things which they have a right to injured person is able to offer, or
do, it is required to exercise the very that it is necessary to offer. Shearm. & Redf. Neg. ß °59. The case of highest degree of care and skill in Turner v. Southern Power Co. su
the installation, construction, and pra, seems to be 'on all fours' with operation of its plant, and the highthis one, as the facts of the two cases
est degree of care and skill in the are strikingly alike."
inspection of its wires and appliThe defendant in its brief quotes ances and all of its apparatus, to as follows from Smith v. Middles- prevent injury to persons, and to boro Electric Co. 164 Ky. 62, 174 S. that end should provide itself with W. 780, Ann. Cas. 1917A, 1164, and use the known necessary dewhich we think sound in principle, vices to control its electrical current, except as modified by statute in this and prevent the passing of dangerstate: “The just rule seems to be ous currents of electricity into the that the electric light company
houses of its patrons, because the should not be responsible for inju- patrons of such a company and the ries received by persons arising sole- persons on lawful business in the ly from the defects in the wiring houses of the patrons have a right
(187 N. 0. 832, 123 8. E. 92.) to assume, in the absence of knowl
must be edge to the contrary, that the appli- held to the highest degree of care ances and fixtures of the company in its distribution." are free from defects which would The extent of the plaintiff's inpermit the flow of an unnecessary jury, if believed, would indicate an and dangerous current of electricity unnecessary and dangerous current into the houses, endangering their of electricity into the theater, and in lives or safety. [Italics ours.
excess of voltage transmitted. The "The nature of electricity and its doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applies, operations, and what it may do or which would carry the case to the may not do, are things very little jury. White v. Hines, 182 N. C. understood or known by the masses 288, 109 S. E. 31; Modlin v: Simof the people, and are subjects about mons, 183 N. C. 65, 110 S. E. 661; which those professing the greatest Hinnant v. Tidewater Power Co. 187 knowledge of electricity, and the ef- N. C. 293, 121 S. E. 540. fects of it under circumstances, dis- The judgment of nonsuit as to pute. It cannot be seen, and can George W. Pryor and the Virginiaonly be felt, and when the effects Carolina Amusement Company is of it are felt, it is usually too late affirmed. From the view we take for the victim to escape its more of the law, we think the case against deadly effects. The suddenness and the Southern Public Utilities Comdestructiveness of its effects are pany should have been submitted such that those who choose to manu- to a jury. facture and distribute it, although For the reasons given, the judgit is a lawful and now almost a nec- ment below is reversed.
Res ipsa loquitur in case of electric shock from electrical household appliance.
This annotation, in discussing the death was caused by electric shock. application of the doctrine res ipsa Applying the doctrine of res ipsa loloquitur to electric shock from elec- quitur, the court said: “Assuming, trical household appliances, excludes then, that plaintiff made a sufficient electric lights and lighting fixtures showing for the jury to find that the and also telephones.
deceased died from electric shock, the The reported case (MCALLISTER V. one further material inquiry is whethPRYOR, ante, 25) holds that, where er he made a case from which the jury a theater employee receives an elec- could find defendants chargeable with tric shock while using an electrically negligence in respect thereto. If the heated flatiron in a proper manner, defendants undertook to maintain a the fact that an excessive and danger- system of lighting and power by elecous current is shown to have been
tricity, they were charged with the present in the appliance is sufficient to
duty of supplying the current to their take the case to the jury on the negli- patrons, including plaintiff and his gence of the electrical company. Apparently the only other case
wife, in a voltage proportioned to the
service to be given, which is shown to passing on the question is Welsch v. Charles Frusch Light & P. Co. (1923)
have been a current for ordinary light - Iowa, 193 N. W. 427, 22 N. C.
bulbs and power for the operation of C. A. 672. In that case it was shown
the family washing machine. This, that a woman was found dead be- the principal defendant and his witside an electrically operated washing nesses testify, called for a supply of machine, in her home, and that the 110 volts, which might be subject to marks on her body indicated that slight variations, at times, of very few