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CAMPBELL v. GLADDEN (11/17/55)

November 17, 1955

CAMPBELL
v.
GLADDEN, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 105, 106, and 107, March T., 1955, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Aug. T., 1953, No. 291, in case of Naomi Smith Campbell, Executrix of estate of David B. Campbell, Dec'd., v. J. Herman Gladden, trading as Gladden Trucking Company, Stidger Dunn and Lawrence Liton. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

Charles G. Sweet, for appellants.

Francis H. Patrono, with him Patrick C. Derrico, and McCloskey, Patrono & McCloskey, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Masmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 383 Pa. Page 145]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On the night of March 12, 1953, David B. Campbell, a lawyer at the Washington County bar and at the time a candidate for the office of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was driving his Ford automobile along U.S. Route No. 19 through Strabana Township when, at a point about one mile from Hill Church, his vehicle collided with a tractor truck belonging to J. Herman Gladden and driven by his employee, Stidger Dunn. As a result of the impact Campbell received bodily injuries which immobilized him for several days, after which he resumed campaigning for the office which is a worthy and yearned-for goal of many members of the bar. He never reached the day of election. On April 1, 1953, he died of a heart condition.

[ 383 Pa. Page 146]

The executrix of his estate, Naomi Smith Campbell, brought suit against the defendant Gladden and his driver-employees under the wrongful death and survival acts, recovering verdicts respectively in the sums of $25,000 and $2,312. The defendants filed a motion for judgment n.o.v. which was refused by the Court below and this appeal followed.

The defendants press for reversal mainly on two grounds: (1) that the plaintiff's decedent was guilty of contributory negligence; and (2) that the injuries resulting from the accident were not responsible for his death. In appellate reviews the record is always read in the light (consistent with reason) most favorable to the verdict-winner. In spite of this citation-packed rule, the defendants urge that the transcript of testimony portrays Campbell driving his car into the rear of the defendant's tractor, precipitating the collision which was the basis of the plaintiff's suits. The record does reveal some testimony upon which such an interpretation could lean, but it also contains pages which impart substance, authority, and conclusiveness, in the light of the Gibraltar of the jury's verdict, to the plaintiff's assertion that Campbell was innocent of contributory negligence and that the accident could not have occurred had it not been for the negligence of the defendant's employees.

When Campbell first came into view of the locale which was later to be the scene of the accident, he saw a truck and a tractor parked on the side of the road, pointing in the same direction he was travelling. As developed by other evidence, the truck had broken down and the tractor was preparing to haul it away by means of a connecting chain. No flares were displayed by the defendant drivers as they paused at the wayside because, as one of them explained at the trial, they had hoped to get away before any other vehicle appeared.

[ 383 Pa. Page 147]

Before they could complete the coupling operation, however, Campbell arrived and as he was about to pass by, presumably having space to clear the stationary vehicles, the tractor precipitately backed into the highway, striking the right front fender and wheel of Campbell's automobile, thereby producing the ...


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