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BRILLHART v. EDISON LIGHT & POWER COMPANY (06/27/51)

June 27, 1951

BRILLHART
v.
EDISON LIGHT & POWER COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 19, May T., 1951, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of York County, August T., 1947, No. 207, in case of Alverta Brillhart, Admrx., Estate of Charles Frederick Brillhart, deceased, v. Edison Light & Power Company, now Metropolitan Edison Company and Norman J. Bortner. Judgment affirmed; reargument refused September 24, 1951.

COUNSEL

W. Burg Anstine, with him Robert I. Shadle, Anstine & Shadle, Horace G. Ports and Fisher, Ports & May, for appellant.

Arthur Markowitz, with him Markowitz & Liverant, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j. Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 368 Pa. Page 309]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This appeal by the Edison Light & Power Company is from a judgment entered against it (after remittitur) on a jury's verdict in favor of the plaintiff administratrix for damages due her individually and her children for the wrongful death of her husband. At trial, the defendants were the electric company, Norman J. Bortner, the owner of the premises on which the fatal accident occurred, and P. W. Strickland, the employer of the deceased. Strickland had been brought upon the record as an additional defendant by the other two (original) defendants. The jury also found in favor of the defendants Bortner and Strickland.

Charles Frederick Brillhart, the plaintiff's decedent, was electrocuted when a metal pipe, which he and a fellow worker were installing in a well-pump on Bortner's farm, came in contact with a high tension uninsulated wire of the electric company, carrying 4600 volts of electricity. The inserting of the pipe into the well was a necessary operation in the installation of a new pump in Bortner's pump-house which work Brillhart's employer had undertaken under contract with Bortner.

The electric company filed motions for judgment n.o.v. and for a new trial, both of which were denied by the court below, and judgment was entered on the reduced verdict as already stated. This appeal by the electric company followed.

[ 368 Pa. Page 310]

As to its motion for judgment n.o.v., the appellant contends that the evidence fails to show negligence on its part and that the deceased was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law. In support of the new trial motion, the appellant ascribes error in the trial court's admission in evidence of photographs of the scene taken after the accident when certain material changes had been made in attendant structures and in refusing to admit in evidence testimony offered by the appellant in regard to safety standards fixed by the Electrical Code of the Federal Bureau of Standards. The appellant also urges that the verdict, as reduced by remittitur, is still excessive and that it is fatally inconsistent in that the jury held the electric company liable while it exonerated the defendant Bortner.

The pump-house in which the deceased and his fellow workman, one S. T. Hause, were working at the time of the accident was 10 feet square and 7 1/2 feet high. It sat to the side of Bortner's dwelling on a stone foundation. It had a door in the front toward the dwelling and a window in each side adjacent to the front. In the center of the roof there was a trap door or covered hatch 18 inches square, the opening being directly over the pump below. The pipe which the two men were installing was 21 feet long; and, at one end of it, they had attached a short elbow pipe which projected at right angles to the main pipe. In order to get the end of the pipe into the well inside the pump-house, Brillhart and his co-worker pushed the elbowed end of the pipe in through one of the windows and up and out the trap-door opening or hatch in the roof until the lower end of the pipe was in ...


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