Metropolitan Railroad Co. v. Moore
121 U.S. 558 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Metropolitan Railroad Co. v. Moore, 121 U.S. 558 (1887)

Metropolitan Railroad Company v. Moore

Argued April 21, 1887

Decided May 2, 1887

121 U.S. 558

Syllabus

An appeal lies to the general term of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia from a denial by that court in special term of a motion for a new trial, made on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of evidence; but the legal discretion of that court respecting the disposition of such a motion is not reviewable in this Court.

Stewart v. Elliott, 2 Mackey 307, overruled.

When Congress adopts a state system of jurisprudence and incorporates it, substantially in the language of the state statute creating it, into the federal legislation for the District of Columbia, it must he presumed to have adopted it as understood in the its origin, and not as it might be affected by previous rules of law, either prevailing in Maryland or recognized in the courts of the District.

This is an action at law, brought by the defendant in error in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, against the plaintiff in error, to recover damages for personal injuries alleged to have been caused by the negligence of the defendant's servants in the management of its cars while running upon a street railroad in the City of Washington. On the trial of the cause, and after the testimony for the plaintiff was closed, the defendant asked the court to instruct the jury that, upon the testimony offered in behalf of the plaintiff, he was not entitled to recover. This was refused, and an exception taken. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $5,000, on which judgment was rendered. The defendant thereupon filed a motion for a new trial on the

Page 121 U. S. 559

following grounds: 1st, because the verdict was against the weight of evidence; 2d, because the verdict was against the instructions of the court; 3d, because the damages awarded by the jury were excessive, and also upon exceptions taken at the trial.

The record then shows the following proceedings:

"The motion for a new trial coming on to be heard upon the pleadings, the testimony, and the rulings of the court as set forth in said pleadings and in the stenographic report filed herewith and marked 'Exhibit A,' which said report contains all the testimony in the case and the rulings of the court, the same is hereby overruled, and from the order of the court overruling said motion the defendant hereby appeals to the court in general term. And thereupon the defendant, by its said attorney, tenders to the court here its bills of exception to the rulings of the court on the trial of this case and prays that they may be duly signed, sealed, and made a part of the record now for then, which is done accordingly."

The bills of exception state the rulings of the court during the progress of the trial, with the evidence applicable thereto, and Exhibit A, referred to in the order of the court overruling the motion for a new trial, sets out in full all the testimony in the case.

The record then shows the proceedings and judgment on the appeal in the general term as follows:

"Now again come here as well the plaintiff as the defendant, by their respective attorneys, whereupon, it appearing to the court that the order of the court below overruling the motion for a new trial on a case stated, upon the ground that the verdict of the jury was against the weight of evidence, is not an order from which an appeal lies to this court, and it also appearing to the court that the defendant's exceptions to the admissibility of evidence and to the rulings and instructions of the court were not well taken, the said appeal is hereby dismissed, and the motion for a new trial on exceptions is now overruled, and the judgment of the court is affirmed, with costs."

The defendant below sued out the present writ of error.

Page 121 U. S. 561

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