The following summary, taken from The Southwestern Reporter [Volume 69, July 14-November 12, 1902, page 1070], describes the Court of Appeals judgment in the case of Ora Shepherd vs. the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in the case of the train wreck at Gap in Knob on 23 Dec 1899.
Additional information about Ora Shepherd is given near the bottom of this page.
LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. SHEPHERD.
(Court of Appeals of Kentucky. Oct. 23, 1902.)
CARRiERS - INJURY TO PASSENGER - PUNITIVE DAMAGES - EViDENCE - AMOUNT AWARDED.
1. Plaintiff, a passenger on defendant's train, was standing on the platform of one of the coaches, intending to get off, just prior to a collision, when a man, seeing her danger, caught her. and pulled her off. in being pulled from the train, plaintiff's hip was bruised, her feet were wet. and she suffered from the injury on her hip for two or three weeks, though she rode to the wreck the next day, and on the succeeding day went to a ball, and danced there. Held that, it having been previously held that under the circumstances attending the collision punitive damages might be recovered, an award of $400 was not so excessive as would justify reversal.
Appeal from circuit court, Bullitt county.
"Not to be officially reported."
Action by Ora Shepherd against the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company. From a judgment in favor of plaintiff, defendant appeals. Affirmed.
Fairlelgh, Straus & Eagles, for appellant. Chas. Carroll, for appellee.
HOBSON, J. This is a suit by appellee to recover for alleged injuries received by her in a wreck at Gap-in-Knob, Bullitt county, December 23, 1899. For the facts in regard to this collision, see Railroad Co. v. Simpson (Ky.) 64 S. W. 733; Same v. Carothers (Ky.) 65 S. W. 833, 66 S. W. 385; Same v. Richmond (Ky.) 67 S. W. 25. In those cases it was held that the proof warranted the submission to the jury of the question of punitive damages. The jury, under instructions which are not complained of, found a verdict for $400. It is insisted that the verdict is palpably excessive, and, while it is clear from the evidence that appellee's injuries were not serious, still the jury, especially where punitive damages may be awarded, have a large discretion in cases of this character; and under all the evidence we do not think that we ought to disturb the verdict. Appellee, who was a young lady, was standing on the platform of one of the coaches near the rear of the train, with the intention of getting off at that station. A gentleman who had gotten off the train saw the freight dashing around the curve behind it, and called to the young lady to jump off. She did not understand him. He then jumped upon the step of the car, caught her, and pulled her off. Jumping to the ground immediately himself. Just as he got to the ground, the freight dashed into the passenger, jamming the two coaches where appellee stood, and badly wrecking the train. In being pulled from the train, appellee was bruised on the hip, a place as large as one's hand turning blue. It was raining a little. She lost her hat; her feet were wet; also to some extent her clothes. From this she took cold, and suffered also for two or three weeks from the injury on the hip. The next morning she rode in a surrey to the wreck, but returned home, and went to bed. That afternoon she got up to see a gentleman who called. The next day she remained in bed. but that evening got up and went to a ball, and danced there, although it made her hip hurt her. After this she was in bed more or less for some days. Young ladies will sometimes go to balls and the like despite the demands of their health or the actual pain they may suffer. The sincerity of the testimony as to the extent of appellee's injuries was for the jury, who saw and heard the witnesses. As she had suffered an actual physical injury, she was entitled to recover, not only for physical pain, but for the mental suffering she endured. in such a catastrophe as this was, there must have been no little nervous shock for appellee. There is no accurate measure for determining precisely the amount of damages to be awarded in such cases, and necessarily a greater latitude must be allowed for the common judgment of a jury of 12 unbiased men from the different walks of life, putting together their mutual experience of practical things, than in those cases where the amount of damages may be definitely computed. Judgment affirmed.
Ora Shepherd was born in 1877 to Richard and Addie (Eddington) Shepherd. She married Guy C. Howlett in November 1903. By the 1910 census they had two sons (James and Chester) and a daughter (Martha Thelma). In the next decade they added three more sons, Thomas Karl, Charles, and Jesse.
As early as 1917, Guy Howlett had gone to work for the railroad as a boiler maker, a job he would keep for the rest of his career.
Tragedy struck the family on the Fourth of July in 1931 when their son, Thomas Karl drowned while swimming in the Rolling Fork River near Pitts Point. He was just 20 years old.
Ironically, it was another Fourth of July, this time in 1942, when Ora Shepherd Howlett died. Guy lived five years longer, dying in 1947.
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