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SMITH v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY (05/24/54)

May 24, 1954

SMITH
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 100, March T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1949, No. 1603, in case of Roy E. Smith v. The County of Allegheny. Judgment, as modified, affirmed.

COUNSEL

Samuel W. Pringle, with him John David Rhodes and Dalzell, Pringle, Bredin & Martin, for appellant.

Robert B. Ivory, with him Evans, Ivory & Evans, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 377 Pa. Page 366]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

A very narrow question is presented. Was the verdict excessive?

We shall summarize the testimony on behalf of the plaintiff as follows: On November 13, 1946, a tire rim became detached from the left rear wheel of defendant's truck. The rim rolled down the street and hit plaintiff in the back of his legs, knocking him against the front of the car he was inspecting. Plaintiff was taken to the hospital and then back to his service station, and from there to his home. He was confined to his home, and most of the time to his bed, for a month. Then with the aid of a cane he was able to supervise his garage business for two to four hours a day for five to six weeks, but was not able to perform a complete day's work until the middle of February, 1947.

Plaintiff's left leg swelled to twice its normal size and a large hematoma developed. His doctor put him to bed, gave him morphine for the pain, and ordered him to keep his leg raised. Plaintiff testified that the pain for the first month was constant and severe. The doctor testified that the swelling and discoloration disappeared and the leg retained its normal appearance by the middle of February, 1947 -- a period of three months. His bill was $68. Plaintiff testified that he still sometimes suffered pain up to the date of trial, especially if he did too much work.

Plaintiff's right leg was also injured, but only very slightly, namely, 8 small brush burns, none larger than a thumbnail. These brush burns were not deep and caused no swelling and healed within a month. The treatment prescribed for these burns was cleanliness and rest. Plaintiff's right leg had been terribly

[ 377 Pa. Page 367]

    damaged in an accident when he was 15 years old. As a result of the accident he underwent operations at St. John's Hospital, where he was confined from 3 to 6 months, and where part of the calf of his right leg was cut away and finally a tendon was cut so that he could move his ankle. He underwent another operation at the Suburban General Hospital, where he was confined for 4 months. As a result of that accident and the subsequent operations, about one-third of his right leg, from the tendon of the foot to the knee, was covered with scar tissue, circulation was impaired and he could not thereafter bend his right leg completely and had to baby it. This is important in considering his claim that the present accident prevented him from changing tires and doing similar work at his service station.

Plaintiff's only expenses were the doctor's bill of $68. While plaintiff was laid up from the accident, his friends worked for him at his garage gratis, but there was testimony that the wage rate of an attendant, who would have done plaintiff's work, was $1.25 per hour. ...


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