'Q. At any event, sir, to sum up is it correct to say that you cannot ascribe Dr. Vaccaro's present condition or any part of it as having been solely caused by the accident? A. I can't say positively but I can say that there is a definite possibility that his infarct that was discovered by Dr. LaPlace subsequent to the accident was contributed to by the accident.
'Q. Contributed toward but not caused solely by? A. It could be caused solely by.
'Q. That is, of course, conjectural merely? A. That is right.'
Briefly summarized, Dr. Stroud's testimony was that in his opinion there is a definite possibility that plaintiff's myocardial infarct was either caused or contributed to by the accident.
A review of the applicable Pennsylvania cases clearly demonstrates the legal insufficiency of the above-quoted testimony to establish a causal connection between the accident and plaintiff's subsequent heart condition.
In Wargo v. Pittsburgh Railways Company, 376 Pa. 168, 172, 101 A.2d 638, 640, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held: '* * * Under the testimony of the defendant's doctor * * * it is extremely doubtful whether plaintiff is entitled to recover anything for his back condition, because the doctor frankly admitted that he could not say whether the accident aggravated the first injury or not.'
In Nestor v. George, 354 Pa. 19, 24, 46 A.2d 469, 472, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held to be error the admission of a doctor's testimony to the effect that the "condition from which plaintiff suffers today could have originated in the accident * * *."
The applicable principle of law was perhaps best stated by the same court in the recent case of Menarde v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 376 Pa. 497, 501, 103 A.2d 681, 684:
'In order to link her impaired physical condition to the defendant's conduct, the plaintiff was forced to depend on expert medical testimony because scientific knowledge was required for the elucidation of the question. * * * Moreover the expert has to testify, not that the condition of claimant might have, or even probably did, come from the accident, but that in his professional opinion the result in question came from the cause alleged. A less direct expression of opinion falls below the required standard of proof and does not constitute legally competent evidence. Vorbnoff v. Mesta Machine Co., 286 Pa. 199. 206, 133 A. 256; Powell v. Risser, 375 Pa. 60, 68, 69, 99 A.2d 454 * * *.'
In the instant case Dr. Stroud's testimony that in his professional opinion the accident possibly caused or contributed to plaintiff's heart condition clearly falls below the required standard of proof and does not constitute legally competent evidence. This evidence, therefore, should have been stricken from the record and the jury instructed to disregard it.
The testimony relating to plaintiff's shoulder injuries is the only competent medical evidence remaining in the case. Plaintiff has not suggested, however, that these relatively minor shoulder injuries are responsible for his alleged permanent partial loss of earning capacity, which is the major item of damages included in the verdict. According to plaintiff's theory and attempted proof of his case, the bulk of his claim and consequently the bulk of the verdict are for the loss of earning capacity due to his alleged heart injury. It is obvious, therefore, that the evidence relating to plaintiff's shoulder injuries cannot conceivably support or justify a verdict of $ 25,000. Since the amount of the verdict is grossly excessive, a new trial must be granted.
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