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BROWN v. AMBRIDGE YELLOW CAB COMPANY (05/28/53)

May 28, 1953

BROWN, APPELLANT,
v.
AMBRIDGE YELLOW CAB COMPANY



Appeal, No. 196, March T., 1952, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, March T., 1951, No. 43, in case of Mildred Brown and Joseph Orler v. Ambridge Yellow Cab Company. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

A. G. Helbling, with him James B. Ceris, for appellants.

Oran W. Panner, with him Thompson Bradshaw and Bradshaw & Panner, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 374 Pa. Page 210]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On the morning of January 1, 1950, at about 2 o'clock, the plaintiffs, Mildred Brown and Joseph Orler, entered a taxicab outside the Maennerchor Hall in northern Ambridge, and instructed the driver to take them to the Workingmen's Beneficial Union Building, situated on the eastern side of Merchant Street near the middle of the block, between 3rd and 4th streets, toward the southern end of Ambridge. The driver, instead of approaching the indicated address on the east side of the street so that the cab could stop immediately in front of the building, (and the passengers could thus be discharged from the right side of the vehicle,) advanced along Merchant Street on the west side. It came to a stop at a point across the street from the Workingmen's Building, which necessitated the passengers' alighting from the left side of the cab and into the middle of the roadway. Immediately after descending from the cab the plaintiffs were struck and injured by an automobile coming north on Merchant Street. The plaintiffs brought a suit in trespass against the Ambridge Yellow Cab Company, which, in turn, brought in the owner of the intervening automobile, John Kochanowski, as additional defendant. At the ensuing trial the jury returned a verdict exonerating John Kochanowski, and found in favor of the plaintiffs ($8,000 to Mildred Brown and $164.80 to Joseph Orler) against the Ambridge Yellow Cab Company. The jury also made special findings in the form of answers to 17 questions submitted to them.

[ 374 Pa. Page 211]

The defendant cab company moved for judgment n.o.v., which was granted by the court below, and an appeal followed to this Court.

We will consider first whether the general verdict was supported by the evidence and then whether the special findings, which, in part, were inconsistent with the general verdict, were controlling over the general verdict.

It is, of course, an established rule that where a plaintiff obtains a verdict, "we are required to view the evidence in a light most favorable to him, resolving any conflicts in the testimony in his favor and according him the benefit of every inference of fact reasonably deducible therefrom." (Brizzi v. Pianetti, 165 Pa. Superior Ct. 258, 260, and cases there cited.)

This rule is but another way of saying that judgment n.o.v. cannot be entered except in such cases where the evidence required the court to grant binding instructions against the plaintiff.

In view of the fact that the testimony of the plaintiffs, if believed, made out a clear case of negligence against the defendant, and did not per se convict them of contributory negligence, the Trial Court would not have been warranted in ordering the jury to return a verdict for the defendant.

The driver of the taxicab involved in this accident engaged himself to transport the plaintiff-passengers to the Workingmen's Building and release them at a reasonably safe place for them to enter that building. He did not acquit himself of that obligation when he stopped on the other side of the street from the passengers' destination and discharged them from the wrong side of the cab into the street, potentially moving with traffic. Even if the plaintiffs had wanted to alight from the right of the cab, they could not have done so because of parked cars on that side of the

[ 374 Pa. Page 212]

    street. The cab driver, on coming to a halt, said: "Here you are; you get out here," and opened the left door of the cab. The passengers had no ...


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