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KOEHLER v. SCHWARTZ (06/27/55)

June 27, 1955

KOEHLER
v.
SCHWARTZ, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 127, Jan. T., 1955, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, April T. 1953, No. 18, in case of Alfred L. Koehler v. Clarence F. Schwartz, trading as C. F. Schwartz Motor Co., and Francis R. Weyandt. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

George F. Coffin, Jr., with him Richard D. Grifo, Raymond J. DeRaymond and Coffin & Grifo, for appellants.

Everett Kent, with him S. Maxwell Flitter, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 382 Pa. Page 353]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

This is an appeal from judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County entered upon a verdict for the plaintiff following a trial having to do with an accident which occurred on February 16, 1951, at the intersection of Broad and Belvidere Streets in Nazareth, when the plaintiff's car proceeding forward with a green light in its favor was struck by the defendant's trailer-truck which was moving against a red light.

It is the contention of the defendant C. F. Schwartz that although the driver of his trailer-truck was negligent, he is nonetheless entitled to judgment n.o.v. because the evidence showed that the plaintiff Koehler was guilty of contributory negligence. The Trial Judge in a charge to which no exception was taken specifically

[ 382 Pa. Page 354]

    directed the jury's attention to the subject of contributory negligence by affirming the following points: "1. It was the duty of Plaintiff upon reaching the intersection to look first to his left to his left and then to his right to observe traffic upon the intersecting highway." "2. A right of way is a qualified right, and a Plaintiff driver who possesses that right, but who fails to heed ordinary precautions regarding observation of other vehicles, their speed, control or other factors of which his senses warn him, is guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law." "3. Blind reliance on a favorable traffic signal is fatal to recovery." "4. It was the duty of Plaintiff to obey the laws of Pennsylvania in the operation of his motor vehicle and to have his vehicle under control as he entered the intersection, so as to be able to stop within the shortest possible space at the first sign of danger, and if his lack of control in any way contributed to the accident, he is guilty of contributory negligence and cannot recover."

In the consideration of an appeal following the denial of a motion for judgment n.o.v., where the jury has found the defendant negligent and the plaintiff free of contributory negligence - because both questions were submitted to them for their deliberation - the plaintiff is entitled to have the evidence examined in the light most favorable to him and all conflicts arising therefrom resolved in his favor: Foley v. Reading Company, 348 Pa. 485; Habel v. Longenecker, 169 Pa. Super. Ct. 146. Keeping in mind the criteria indicated in these cases and others on the subject we find from a reading of the record that the plaintiff Koehler did all that was required of him by the law. He had a green light and he proceeded ahead under the protection of that green light. His speed was extremely conservative, namely, about 15 miles per hour.

[ 382 Pa. Page 355]

The defendant, on the other hand, drove his big trailer-truck carelessly and recklessly. He ignored the red light which warned him to stop, he proceeded to turn to the left without warning and ...


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