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BOND v. PITTSBURGH (11/13/51)

November 13, 1951

BOND
v.
PITTSBURGH, APPELLANT



Appeals, Nos. 41, 42 and 43, March T., 1951, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1948, No. 2561, in case of Frances Bond et vir., v. City of Pittsburgh. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

Thomas E. Barton, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Anne X. Alpern, City Solicitor, for appellant.

John Wirtzman, for appellees.

Arthur M. Grossman, for Society of St. Vincent de Paul, additional defendant, appellee.

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

Author: Stern

[ 368 Pa. Page 405]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE HORACE STERN

If a pedestrian is injured in a fall caused by a defect in the curbing of a city street and recovers damages in a suit against the municipality, can the latter maintain an action over for indemnity against a charitable organization which owns and occupies the abutting property? That is the principal question involved in the present appeals.

[ 368 Pa. Page 406]

The wife-plaintiff, Frances Bond fell one night in front of premises 1612 Webster Avenue, Pittsburgh, where the curbstone and sidewalk had worn away leaving a hole bordered at its outer edge by a broken steel band which had originally lined the curb; the hole was twelve inches long, ten to twelve inches wide and eight or nine inches deep. She and her husband, Vollie Bond, brought suit against the City of Pittsburgh for damages. The City brought in as additional defendant the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the owner of the premises, which it occupied exclusively for charitable purposes. A verdict in the sum of $13,500 for the wife and $2,500 for the husband was rendered for plaintiffs against the City and for the City over against the Society; the court reduced the wife's verdict to $12,000. The Society filed a motion for judgment n.o.v. which was granted. The City now appeals from the judgments entered against it in favor of the plaintiffs on the ground that the verdicts, even as thus reduced, were excessive, and it appeals also from the judgment entered in favor of the Society.

We consider first the question as to the amount of the verdicts. The wife-plaintiff was 29 years of age at the time of the accident. She worked out as a domestic by the day. She lost over $2,000 in earnings in the time between the accident and the trial and she will suffer also a substantial future loss because of inability to do the same hard work as before. She sustained a severe crippling injury consisting of a rupture of a ligament of the knee which resulted in excessive lateral motion of the joint and made it necessary for her leg to be placed in a splint for several months. Finally a major operation was required, consisting of the opening of the knee, the repair of the ligament, and the sewing of some of the muscles. Her leg was then kept in a cast for about ten weeks, after which a knee support was

[ 368 Pa. Page 407]

    prescribed for her which she has ever since been obliged to wear. She suffered considerable pain and there still remains some abnormal swelling of the joint; according to her doctor there is not likely to be any further improvement. As far as the husband is concerned, his actual expenses amounted to $1,034 and he will probably be required to expend additional sums in the future for the care of his wife's ...


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