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COYNE v. PITTSBURGH RAILWAYS COMPANY (05/02/58)

May 2, 1958

COYNE
v.
PITTSBURGH RAILWAYS COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 6 and 7, March T., 1958, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1954, No. 591, in case of Aleen Coyne et al. v. Pittsburgh Railways Company et al. Judgments affirmed; reargument refused June 11, 1958.

COUNSEL

Earl W. Brieger, for defendant appellant.

Emanuel Goldberg, with him Pringle, Bredin & Martin for plaintiffs, appellees.

John David Rhodes, for defendant, appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 393 Pa. Page 327]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Aleen Coyne, 19 years of age, was struck and injured by an automobile when she alighted from a street car which had been travelling eastwardly on East Carson Street in Pittsburgh and had stopped near a T-intersection known as Terminal Way. She and her parents brought an action in trespass against the Pittsburgh Railways Company and the operator of the involved automobile, Charles Baier. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and against both defendants. The defendant railways company has

[ 393 Pa. Page 328]

    appealed seeking judgment n.o.v. or a new trial. The defendant Baier did not appeal.

The railways company argues that the plaintiffs failed to show that the motorman of the street car committed any act of negligence and, if he did, it was not established that the negligence was the proximate cause of Aileen Coyne's injuries. Reading the record in the light most favorable to the verdict-winners, as we are required to do in considering a motion for judgment n.o.v., the following recital of events emerges.

On the evening of October 20, 1951, at about 8 o'clock, Aileen Coyne boarded a No. 50 street car on Carson Street with the intention of getting off at Terminal Way where she was to meet other girls with whom she was going to the movies. She took a seat in the middle of the car and then, when it got to Third Street, which was the regular car stop immediately prior to the Terminal Way stop, she advanced to the front of the car and handed the motorman her transfer ticket. She turned and faced the doors, awaiting the car's arrival at her destination. There was nothing to visually apprise her of the Terminal Way stop since Carson Street at this stretch of the thoroughfare on its southern side (which she was facing) is shadowed by a massive 20-foot-high retaining stone wall which offers no marking or architectural feature to designate the Terminal Way stop. The car ground to a halt, the motorman threw open the doors, the girl descended to the street and took two or three steps on the pavement when she was violently struck in the rear by an automobile which had been following the street car for some distance but which, as the car passed Terminal Way, moved abreast and alongside the car. The plaintiffs presented evidence to show that the street car ignored the Terminal Way stop and proceeded to a point 90 feet beyond it, where the motorman discharged

[ 393 Pa. Page 329]

Miss Coyne at the moment that the automobile, having swung around the rear of the car, was now seeking to pass it, the driver believing that the car, since it had passed Terminal Way, would now unabatedly continue on its way up Carson Street. With this showing of evidence, the plaintiffs contended that the motorman was guilty of a specific act of negligence in that, after having failed to halt his car at a regular car stop, he discharged his passenger at a manifestly dangerous spot.

The defendant company denied that its street car had not stopped at Terminal Way and called witnesses who testified that it was precisely at Terminal Way that the collision between Baier's automobile and Miss Coyne occurred. Of course, these diametrically opposing stories as to whether the car did or did not stop at Terminal Way passed through the crucible of the jury's deliberations and fused in the verdict which now proclaims on the imperishable tablets of a factual finding that the street car disregarded the Terminal Way stop. Thus, we have no question on this appeal where the car stopped. We are concerned only with, whether, in taking Miss Coyne ...


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