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HAST v. UNITED STATES

March 29, 1951

HAST
v.
UNITED STATES



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

This is a claim for money damages which arise out of an automobile accident. The proceeding is brought by Harold H. Hast against the United States of America pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1346, 2671 et seq.

The case was tried without a jury and the following Opinion, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order are entered by the Court.

 Opinion.

 At the same time and place a United States Army ambulance was being operated in the opposite or in a southerly direction. At a distance of thirty to fifty feet from plaintiff's automobile, the ambulance went into a skid, the rear of the ambulance swinging to the right and skidding across the road and at the point of collision was cross-wise in the opposite land of traffic.

 It is settled in Pennsylvania that the skidding of a vehicle does not of itself establish or constitute negligence, and that it is incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove the skidding resulted from a negligent act of defendant. Johnson v. American Reduction Co., 1931, 305 Pa. 537, 158 A. 153; Master v. Goldstein's Fruit & Produce, Inc., 1942, 344 Pa. 1, 23 A.2d 443; Lithgow v. Lithgow, 1939, 334 Pa. 262, 5 A.2d 573.

 The failure of the driver of a motor vehicle to keep to the right side of the highway is excused where, without fault on his part, the vehicle skids across the center line of the road. However, where the skidding results from negligence, the driver is responsible. Miles v. Myers, 1946, 353 Pa. 316, 45 A.2d 50; Davin v. Levin, 1947, 357 Pa. 554, 55 A.2d 364; Rosenal v. United States, D.C., 94 F.Supp. 1004.

 The circumstances in the case are such as to require the government to produce evidence to exculpate itself from the inference of negligence on the part of the driver of the ambulance. This burden has not been met.

 The driver of the army ambulance was negligent in not having proper control over said vehicle. Such negligence was the proximate cause of the accident and resulting injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiff. Rosenal v. United States, supra.

 Findings of Fact.

 1. The plaintiff filed this action against the United States of America pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1346, 2671 et seq.

 2. On August 21, 1947, at approximately 8:30 a.m., a 1939 Mercury Sedan, owned and operated by the plaintiff, came into collision with a United States Army ambulance on Pennsylvania State Highway Route No. 88 near Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania.

 3. The road was a two-land highway, approximately 30 feet wide and, at the point where the accident occurred, had a black-top or macadam surface.

 4. It had rained continuously that morning and at the time of the accident the surface of the ...


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