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Varcoe v. Lee

Supreme Court of California
181 P. 223 (Cal. 1919)


A car driven by Nichols, Lee’s chauffer, ran over and killed Varcoe’s child on Mission Street in San Francisco. Varcoe (plaintiff) brought a negligence suit against Lee and Nichols (defendants). At trial, the judge instructed the jury that if Nichols was driving faster than 15 miles per hour, he was violating a state law that prohibited anyone from driving faster than 15 miles per hour in a business district. There was no evidence presented to show that where the accident occurred on Mission Street was a business district. Rather, the judge simply stated that the relevant section of Mission Street constituted a business district. The trial court ruled in favor of Varcoe. The defendants appealed on the grounds that the trial court improperly took judicial notice of the question of whether the pertinent section of Mission Street constituted a business district, thus taking the question out of the hands of the jury.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Olney, J.)

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