RESIDENT MAGISTRATE’S COURT.
Tuesday, June 29. (Before Mr. F. Guinness, R.M.) CIVIL CASES. Saunders Bros. v. Murphy.—Claim, LSO 17s. Id. Mr. Branson for defendant ; no appearance for plaint ills. Case struck out; plaintiffs to pay costs, LI 11s. Gd. Branson and Purnell v. Taylor.—Claim, Ll 11s. 6cl. Judgment by default for amount and costs, Gs. Immediate execution granted. Poyntz and Co. v. Brankin.—Claim, L 5. Mr. Branson for defendant ; no appearance for plaintiff. Case struck out ; plaintiffs to pay costs, Ll Is. Subsequently Mr. O’Reilly appeared in Court, and after consenting to pay the Ll Is., his Worship granted Mr. O’Reilly’s application to have the case reinstated, and it proceeded. Mr. Ferriraan, representing Poyntz and Co., had been commissioned by one George Cox to purchase a farm, and knowing that defendant bad a suitable one, interviewed him. Through the negotious brought about by plaintiffs, the farm was disposed of. The plaintiffs always looked to the lessors for payment of commission. W. H. Gundry deponed to having been managing clerk for several years in Messrs. Wilkin and Co.’s office in Christchurch, also, in Messrs. Twentyman and Cousins’ store, in the same city. It was always the custom to collect commission from the lessor in such cases as the one now before the Court. After counsel had addressed the Bench, his Worship said that the person who applied to the agent was certainly the party liable, and therefore, on the evidence given, which was to the effect that Brankin had not sought the agent, but vice versa, judgment would be given for the defendant, with costs, Ll Is. Ivess v. Martin.—Claim, L 27 13s. Gd. Mr. Branson for defendant. Both the plaintiff and Mr. Branson addressed the Bench at length on a technical point raised by the former ; after which, his Worship nonsuited the plaintiff, with costs, Ll Is. Jones and Bradshaw v. O'Neill.— Claim, L 5 15s. lOd. Mr. O’Reilly for plaintiffs ; Mr. Branson for defendant. The plaintiffs were nonsuited, with costs, Ll is., on the ground that there was no date to the bill of particulars, and the individual names of the firm were not given. O’Neill v. Jones and Bradshaw.— Claim, Ll 5, damages through alleged negligence of defendants. Mr. Branson for plaintiff; Mr. O’Reilly for defendants. Arthur O’Neill, sworn, said he engaged defendants to cut chaff for him. They used a steam-engine in the work, and the men they employed did their own cooking, using an apparatus manufactured from a nail-can, and utilising also for fuel the straw amongst which they were working. A fire occurred which destroyed a quantity of chaff, and the evidence of witness went to show that the origin of the fire was traceable to the cooking operations of these. There were 209 bags of chaff destroyed, and eighty-one bags damaged. Fifty-six bags went to the ton, and plaintiff had two contracts on hand for the supply of chaff—one at L2 10a. and the other at L2 15s. These prices did not include the cost of bags, which were valued at 4d. each. There was no ashpan used at the engine, and plaintiff had cautioned the driver about this, and asked him to keep the ashes wet. Once saw a live coal fall from the furnace on the straw. Bradshaw trod out the cinder. The engine was being moved at the time on Bradshaw’s authority. This was on the 10th of June, and the Sunday previously saw the men burning staw in the nail-can. Witness warned them that they would
burn him out in the end, but they said there was no danger.
Mr. O’Reilly cross-examined witness with a view to prove that there was a possibility of a spark from the engine firing the chaff. It came out in this crossexamination that plaintiff had ordered his sons to burn some straw in a paddock at a distance from the stacks. The stacks were not insured. James O’Neill, son of plaintiff, deponed to having been working at the scene of the fire on the day it happened—filling chaff Neither witness nor his brother had any matches with them, nor did they fire the stack nor the straw adjoining. The nailcan had been about a couple of yards from the stack and about a yard from where the fire commenced. Mr. Branson then called Arthur O’Neil, another son of the plaintiff On the lad entering the Court, his Worship, addressing Mr. Branson, said he doubted whether he could take the evidence of so young a child. It was, however, ascertained that thelad, although apparently much younger, was in reality eleven years old. His Worship (addressing witness) —Do you know what it is to tell a lie ? Witness—Yes. His Worship—What will happen to you if you tell a lie ? Witness—l shall never see heaven. The intelligence and straightforward manner of the witness being satisfactory, both to the Bench and counsel, the examination was gone on with. Witness —On the day when the fire took place I and my brother wore filling chaff in a hole which was used for that purpose. Wo saw the fire and then left the hole. The straw was on fire near the nail-can. My brother sent mo up to tell my father. Never set fire to the straw, and had no matches. Octavius Digby, sworn—When I went up the fire was burning. After the fire was put out, while talking about what had caused the fire, I remarked that the cinders which had fallen from the nail-can were too near the straw. The cinders were then warm. My experience is that a fire will work up against the wind and on each side. Henry Jones, one of the defendants, sworn—The men in our employ were cautioned to use the utmost care with the engine, as it was not provided with an ash-pan. A hole had been cut in the ground under the furnace where the cinders dropped, and this hole was constantly kept full of water. Four or five days previous to the fire I saw the nailcan about fifty feet away from the stack When I was there I saw Mr. O’Neill take a match and strike it on the wheel of a dray close to where the chaff was. I considered it very careless conduct. Two other witnesses, in the employ of defendants, having given evidence of an U'limpi r.ant character, Alexander McKenzie was examined, who stated that when the nail-can had been removed he poured water on the cinders, but 'would not swear to whether the fire was entirely put out. After Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Branson had addressed he Bench, his Worship said he would defer judgment until next sitting day.
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