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SHOWERS v. UNITED STATES

July 3, 1953

SHOWERS et al.
v.
UNITED STATES (Mitcheltree et al., third-party defendants)



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER

This action was instituted by the plaintiffs against the United States of American under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq., to recover for damages to a house owned by them, which damage occurred when a tractor-trailer rammed into it after colliding with a United States Post Office bus owned by defendant. The United States of America as a third-party plaintiff brought into the action Theodore L. Mitcheltree (the driver of the tractor-trailer), Cyril A. Pitoniak (the owner of the tractor), and Mushroom Transportation Company, Inc. (the owner of the trailer), as third-party defendants.

It was agreed by the parties that the evidence be presented in a jury trial, with the jury rendering a special verdict on the question of negligence of Mitcheltree (the driver of the tractor-trailer), who was conceded to be the agent of the other third-party defendants, and that the Court decide the main action on the basis of the evidence so presented, *fn1" together with supplementary evidence on the matter of damages, with which the jury was not concerned.

 Findings of Fact

 The facts are:

 1. The plaintiffs are, and at the time of the occurrences herein set forth were, the owners in fee of a farm situated in the Village of White Deer, Union County, Pennsylvania, on which was erected, along United States Highway Route No. 15, a frame dwelling house.

 2. On December 15, 1950, at about 10:20 o'clock A.M., Theodore L. Mitcheltree as an employee and agent of Cyril A. Pitoniak, owner of a Brockway tractor, and Mushroom Transportation Company, Inc., owner of a Strick trailer, was driving said tractor-trailer unit in a northerly direction on a through highway known as United States Highway Route No. 15 within the Village of White Deer, White Deer Township, Union County, Pennsylvania.

 3. At the same time and place, one Joseph Shank, an employee of the United States of America and within the scope of his employment, was operating a United States Post Office bus in a northwesterly direction on a side road in the Village of White Deer, known as 'Old Main Street' or old Route No. 15, to a point where same, at an angle, entered the United States Highway Route No. 15, and continued driving said Post Office bus onto said main United States Highway Route No. 15 in a northerly direction.

 4. There was a Highway Department 'Thru Traffic Stop' sign on said 'Old Main Street' at its point of entrance onto United States Highway Route No. 15.

 6. Shank negligently operated the Post Office bus in entering the main highway from the side road, past a stop sign with all the dangers and conditions present at the time he did so, and such negligence was a proximate cause of the accident.

 7. The jury, by a special verdict, found that Theodore L. Mitcheltree was also negligent in his operation of the tractor-trailer and that this was a contributing proximate cause to the accident.

 8. The tractor-trailer, after colliding with the Post Office bus, swerved to the left, ran off the road and struck the house (owned by the plaintiffs) with such force that the front porch was torn off, the corner of the house demolished, the front of the house moved 17 feet off its foundation, the floors buckled, the walls cracked and damaged, the plaster knocked off a large part of the ceilings and walls, the chimney destroyed, the roof damaged, the general frame work of the building thrown out of plumb, and the foundation wall damaged.

 9. The cost of repair or restoration is $ 7,000, which is less than actual ...


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