3 the chauffeur apprehensive of certain dissolution

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[3] The chauffeur apprehensive of certain dissolution from either Scylla, the pursuers, or Charybdis, the pursued, quickly threw his car out of first speed in which he was proceeding, pulled on the emergency, jammed on his brakes and, although he thinks the motor was still run- ning, swung open the door to his left and jumped out of his car. He confesses that the only act 224
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that smacked of intelligence was that by which he jammed the brakes in order to throw off bal- ance the hold-up man who was half-standing and half-sitting with his pistol menacingly poised. Thus abandoning his car and passenger the chauffeur sped toward 26th Street and then turned to look; he saw the cab proceeding south toward 24th Street where it mounted the sidewalk. The plaintiff-mother and her two infant children were there injured by the cab which, at the time, ap- peared to be also minus its passenger who, it appears, was apprehended in the cellar of a local hospital where he was pointed out to a police officer by a remnant of the posse, hereinbefore mentioned. He did not appear at the trial. The three aforesaid plaintiffs and the husband-father sue the defendant for damages predicating their respective causes of action upon the contention that the chauffeur was negligent in abandoning the cab under the aforesaid circumstances. Fortu- nately the injuries sustained were comparatively slight. [4] Negligence has been variously defined but the common legal acceptation is the failure to exercise that care and caution which a reasonable and prudent person ordinarily would exer- cise under like conditions or circumstances. Negligence is “not absolute or intrinsic,” but “is al- ways relevant to some circumstances of time, place or person.” In slight paraphrase of the world's first bard it may be truly observed that the expedition of the chauffeur's violent love of his own security out ran the pauser, reason, when he was suddenly confronted with unusual emergency which “took his reason prisoner”. The learned attorney for the plaintiffs concedes that the chauffeur acted in an emergency but claims a right to recovery upon the following proposi- tion taken verbatim from his brief: “It is respectfully submitted that the value of the interests of the public at large to be immune from being injured by a dangerous instrumentality such as a car unattended while in motion is very superior to the right of a driver of a motor vehicle to abandon same while it is in motion even when acting under the belief that his life is in danger and by abandoning same he will save his life”. [5] To hold thus under the facts adduced herein would be tantamount to a repeal by impli- cation of the primal law of nature written in indelible characters upon the fleshy tablets of sen- tient creation by the Almighty Law-giver, “the supernal Judge who sits on high.” There are those who stem the turbulent current for bubble fame, or who bridge the yawning chasm with a leap
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