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MOHLER v. WORLEY (07/21/55)

July 21, 1955

MOHLER, ADMRX., APPELLANT,
v.
WORLEY, ADMRX.



Appeal, No. 51, Oct. T., 1955, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, May T., 1953, No. 113, in case of Ruth M. Mohler, admrx., Estate of Eli G. Mohler, deceased v. Margaret G. Worley, Admrx., Estate of William Groff, deceased. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

George R. Eves, for appellant.

Robert I. Cottom, with him Harry R. Matten and Matten & Matten, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ. (hirt, J., absent).

Author: Rhodes

[ 179 Pa. Super. Page 58]

OPINION BY RHODES, P.J.

This appeal is from the refusal of the court below to grant plaintiff's motion for a new trial after a verdict in her favor.

Automobiles operated by Eli G. Mohler and William G. Groff collided on route 222 between Reading and Lancaster on April 28, 1952. Groff was killed in the collision. Mohler sustained minor direct physical injuries. At the time, Mohler was suffering from dementia praecox, a pre-existing mental condition which had no connection with the accident. Subsequently, on September 28, 1952, Mohler was admitted to the Wernersville State Hospital where he died on December 1, 1952, of pneumonia, an independent cause having no relation to the injuries which he may have sustained in the accident. Mohler's widow, as administratrix of his estate, instituted the present action under the Survival Act (Act of April 18, 1949, P.L. 512, Art. VI, §§ 601, 603, 20 PS §§ 320.601, 320.603) against Groff's widow, administratrix of Groff's estate, to recover damages to the car and for alleged aggravation of Mohler's pre-existing mental condition. The case was tried before a judge and a jury; the defendant offered no testimony; a verdict was returned for plaintiff in the amount of $400. Plaintiff's motion for a new trial was refused, and judgment was entered on the verdict. On appeal plaintiff alleges the court should have granted her motion for new trial (1) because of inadequacy of the verdict; and (2) because the court erred in its charge as to the measure of damages.

Appellant's medical witness, Dr. J. R. Bower, testified Mohler was suffering from dementia praecox; and the doctor's direct testimony, if credited, was to

[ 179 Pa. Super. Page 59]

    the effect that the accident aggravated Mohler's mental condition and caused his confinement in an institution a year or a year and a half before it otherwise would have taken place.*fn1 Mohler was employed as a salesman of storm windows, and appellant showed that Mohler's gross commissions for nine months prior to November 22, 1952, amounted to $2,195.52. He supplied his own car at his own expense; there was no testimony as to his net income. The court submitted to the jury Mohler's possible loss of commissions, confining it to a period from September 28, 1952, the time of admission to a mental institution, to December 1, 1952, the date of death.

It was stipulated that damage to decedent's car amounted to $300. In addition, hospital bills of $15 covering emergency treatment and X-rays on the date of the accident were proved. Mohler consulted Dr. Bower for psychiatric treatment on six occasions. The charge for three visits subsequent to the accident was $15. There was also a hospital bill for electric shock treatments, given between September 4, 1952, and September 25, 1952, ...


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