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LOEB v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY. (06/11/58)

June 11, 1958

LOEB, APPELLANT,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY.



Appeal, No. 21, April T., 1958, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1953, No. 2728, in case of Edward Loeb v. Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

H. N. Rosenberg, with him Rosenberg & Rosenberg, for appellant.

Robert Engel, Assistant City Solicitor, with him J. Frank McKenna, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Wright

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 200]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

Edward Loeb instituted suit in trespass against the County of Allegheny. The City of Pittsburgh was thereafter joined as additional defendant. At the first trial, on completion of plaintiff's case as to liability, the court below granted motions of both defendants for a compulsory non-suit. The plaintiff filed a timely motion to remove the compulsory non-suit, which motion was eventually granted and a new trial awarded. At the second trial the jury returned a verdict in favor of the original defendant, and in favor of the plaintiff

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 201]

    against the additional defendant. The court below subsequently granted the additional defendant's motion for judgment n.o.v., and this appeal by plaintiff followed. The factual situation is set forth in the following excerpt from the opinion of Judge SMART for the court en banc:

"On January 7, 1953, plaintiff was serving as a juror in Common Pleas Court in the City-County building. At 11:30 a.m. plaintiff was excused for lunch. Since the elevators were crowded, plaintiff decided to walk down the stairs. As he walked down the stairs between the sixth and fifth floors, he slipped on a step and fell. After falling, plaintiff turned his head and saw a skid mark on the step on which he had slipped. His heel had slipped on a small spot of colorless liquid on the step. There was no evidence as to the nature of the liquid, how long it had been on the step, and who had placed it there. At the time of the accident ceiling lights were on at the fifth and sixth floor landings, but they did not cast light directly on the steps. The walls and hand-rail cast shadows across the steps. A wall light which would have cast light directly on the step on which plaintiff fell was off at the time of the accident, and although a window was nearby, very little light came through since the day was dark. Plaintiff did not notice the liquid or that the wall light was out until after he fell. Plaintiff could see the steps and proceeded with care. A witness testified that the light in question was not on at 9:45 a.m. the morning of the accident".

Appellant's contention is that there was sufficient evidence of the city's negligence to require submission of the case to the jury. The city's first contention, sustained by the court below, is that it had no notice of the presence of the liquid on the step, and that the liquid was the "sole proximate cause" of the accident.

[ 186 Pa. Super. Page 202]

Appellant concedes his inability to establish that the liquid had been on the step for a sufficient length of time to put the defendant on notice. He contends, however, that the wall light had been out for almost two hours and that the absence of sufficient light was the proximate cause of the fall. He argues as follows: "The appellee was guilty of two separate acts of negligence, allowing a slippery substance to be on the steps and failing to provide enough light to see such dangerous conditions. While it is true the ...


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