Appeals, Nos. 173 and 179, March T., 1956, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Sept. T., 1954, Nos. 367, 368 and 369, in case of Wilbert Daugherty et al. v. Earl J. Hershberger et al. Judgments reversed. Actions of trespass for personal injuries. Before ROSSITER, J. Verdicts, in varying sums, for respective plaintiffs, and against defendant and additional defendant; motions by defendant for judgments n.o.v., to compel reduction of verdicts in certain cases, and to compel discharge and satisfaction of verdicts in other cases refused. Defendant appealed.
Bernard F. Quinn, with him Quinn, Leemhuis, Plate & Dwyer, for defendant, appellant.
Fred B. Sieber and John E. Britton, with them David S. Gifford and Gifford, Graham MacDonald & Illig, for plaintiff, appellee.
Before Stern, C.j., Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN
This case calls for an interpretation of the language of Section 4 of the "Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act" of July 19, 1951, P.L. 1130. Section 7 of the Act provides that it "shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states that enact it." However, it would seem that the issue here presented is one of first impression generally.
On July 13, 1952, there was a collision at the intersection of two roads in Erie County in which three motor vehicles were involved, one driven by Wilbert Daugherty, one by Earl J. Hershberger, and one by John Mong. Daugherty and his wife and three children who were passengers in his car suffered personal injuries, as did also two other passengers, Carl D. Williams and Gertrude Williams; Carl D. Williams subsequently died and Elaine Catherine Daugherty became the administratrix of his estate.
Daugherty and his six passengers entered into settlement negotiations with John Mong and arrived at compromise settlements of their claims against him. These settlements were approved by the Court of Common
Pleas of Erie County and payments were made thereunder as follows:
Wilbert Daugherty $5,145.23
Wilbert Daugherty, Guardian for Burdel Daugherty 425.00
Wilbert Daugherty, Guardian, for Leora Daugherty 650.00
Wilbert Caugherty, Guardian for Rodney Daugherty 1,000.00
Elaine Catherine Daugherty 779.77
Gertrude Williams 1,500.00
Elaine Catherine Daugherty, Administratrix of the Estate of 4,000.00
In pursuance of these settlements all the claimants executed releases in favor of Mong in accordance with the 1951 Act. The releases discharged him from any and all liability and provided that the damages recoverable against all other tortfeasors were reduced to the extent of Mong's pro-rata share, which would therefore constitute a 50% reduction thereof. Thereupon three suits were instituted against Hershberger, one by the five Daughertys, one by Gertrude Williams and one by Elaine Catherine Daugherty, Administratrix of the Estate of Carl D. Williams, and in each of these suits Hershberger joined Mong as additional defendant. The cases were consolidated for trial, which resulted in verdicts against both Hershberger and Mong as follows:
Wilbert Daugherty $5,559.49
Wilbert Daugherty, Guardian, for Burdel Daugherty ...