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DUFFY v. PETERSON (11/14/56)

November 14, 1956

DUFFY
v.
PETERSON, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 132 and 133, March T., 1956, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1953, No. 107, in case of James W. Duffy v. Fischbach & Moore, Inc.; Same v. Emil Peterson et al. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

James J. Burns, Jr., with him Dail E. Sloan, for defendant, appellant.

Kim Darragh, with him George Y. Meyer, for defendant, appellant.

George S. Goldstein, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 386 Pa. Page 535]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

The Alcoa Building, 31 stories high and cloaked in aluminum, is one of the several attractive skyscrapers which have risen in Pittsburgh during recent years in the architectural renaissance of that city. Among the army of workers who prepared this ultra-modern office building for occupancy was the plaintiff in the instant case, James W. Duffy, employed by the Western Electric Company, sub-contractor engaged in installing telephone equipment and all appurtenant accessories.

On the morning of June 5, 1952, while proceeding to a designated Terminal Room of his employer on the 14th floor of the building, James W. Duffy tripped over a cord swung across the corridor he was traversing, and fell heavily to the cement floor, sustaining serious injuries. He sued Fischbach & Moore Company, electrical sub-contractors, and later the Peterson Company,*fn* carpenter sub-contractors, charging them respectively with negligence in the manner in which their employees conducted their work in and about the area which was the scene of his misfortune. The two suits were consolidated for trial, and the jury, sworn in the case, returned a verdict of $25,000 against both defendants. The lower Court reduced the verdict to $18,000, and both defendants appealed, urging judgment n.o.v.

A study of the record makes it abundantly clear that Duffy was employed at a job which called for caution

[ 386 Pa. Page 536]

    and care on the part of those whose own duties brought them into the orbit of his legitimate activities. Whether the defendants who were operating within this orbit did or did not discharge their obligations toward him was a question for the jury to decide. In a review of the record we are required to declare all inferences, where there is conflict in the testimony, in favor of the verdict winner, here the plaintiff. (Ranck v. Sauder, 327 Pa. 177.)

The corridor in which the plaintiff Duffy fell to his injury was a passageway some 8 feet wide and 100 feet long, running northwardly and southwardly, paralleling William Penn Way 14 floors below, and overlooking Strawberry Alley at the northern end and Sixth Avenue at the southern end. Throughout the length of the corridor, 4 or 5 feet of its width was taken up with piled-up lumber, pipe, brick, and plaster, plus the inevitable debris which follows the work of craftsmen as they turn raw materials into a neat building with shining corridors, immaculate rooms, elevator shafts, and stairways. Because of the accumulations indicated, the walking ...


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