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COLE v. LLOYD. (03/17/58)

March 17, 1958

COLE, APPELLANT,
v.
LLOYD.



Appeals, Nos. 92 and 93, Jan. T., 1958, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Jan. T., 1955, Nos. 75 and 75A, in cases of Harry S. Cole v. John H. Lloyd and Margaret E. Cole v. John H. Lloyd. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Fred T. Cadmus, III, with him C. Richard Morton and Cadmus & Morton, for appellants.

Robert S. Gawthrop, Jr., with him Gawthrop & Gawthrop, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 392 Pa. Page 34]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Route 52 was covered with snow to a depth of from 6 to 8 inches as Harry S. Cole, on the afternoon of January 24, 1954, crossed the Delaware state line and moved northwardly into Chester County, Pennsylvania.

[ 392 Pa. Page 35]

His wife and 4-year old son occupied with him the front seat of his Chevrolet coupe. At a point in Pennsbury Township, the wheels of his car fell into ruts in the center of the road and beneath the surface of the snow. He attempted to get out of them by cutting his front wheels sharply to the right. The depth and the slipperiness of the sub-surface grooves were such that he could not reach his own lane of travel, so he proceeded forward, continuing all the time to escape the imprisoning ruts beneath, without ever succeeding in doing so.

Although he had originally been travelling at the rate of from 35 to 45 miles per hour, the frozen barriers reduced his speed considerably until at last he could only move at the rate of 5 miles per hour. While fighting the ruts and the snow, Cole saw a truck a quarter of a mile away, advancing toward him on its own side of the highway. As Cole inched forward in jerks and spurts, the truck, which was being driven by John H. Lloyd, approached unimpededly and without diminution in speed. When the truck was about 150 feet away, Cole sounded his horn to emphasize what must have been quite apparent to the truck driver. During the time that the truck covered a quarter of a mile, Cole had progressed only one car length. The truck driver ignored the distress signal, ignored what his eyes must have told him, and ploughed ahead into the Chevrolet, hurling its three occupants into the snow and ice, inflicting certain injuries on all of them, which it is unnecessary to discuss here.

The Coles sued Lloyd and the Court below entered a non-suit. The Coles appealed.

It was the opinion of the Trial Court that Harry Cole and his wife were guilty of contributory negligence. The lower Court said of Margaret Cole: "The plaintiff, ...


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