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JEMISON v. PFEIFER (07/02/59)

July 2, 1959

JEMISON
v.
PFEIFER, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 73 and 74, March T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1953, No. 3329, in case of Matthew Jemison v. Edward W. Pfeifer et al. Judgment affirmed. Trespass for personal injuries. Before O'BRIEN, J. Verdict entered for plaintiff in amount of $35,000; defendants' motion for new trial and judgment n.o.v. refused and judgment entered on the verdict. Defendants appealed.

COUNSEL

Sanford M. Chilcote, with him David J. Armstrong, J. H. Lembersky, and Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson, for appellants.

Robert B. Ivory, with him Evans, Ivory & Evans, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Mcbride

[ 397 Pa. Page 83]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MCBRIDE

The Penn Iron & Metal Company, which is not a party to this suit, was the owner of a concrete building which had been abandoned for many years. It wished to demolish the building and for that purpose contracted with a partnership trading as Homestead Builders Supply and Wrecking Company.*fn1 Homestead, as part of the work of demolition, rented a crane from Allegheny Construction Equipment Company which furnished plaintiff Jemison as operator thereof together with DeAngelis, an oiler, to keep the equipment in condition. On March 8, 1953, after plaintiff had been engaged for several hours in the work of demolition, the upper portion of the building fell on the crane which he had been operating and he was seriously injured.

[ 397 Pa. Page 84]

At trial the jury found in favor of plaintiff and the court below entered judgment on the verdict.

On appeal Homestead contends (a) It is entitled to judgment non obstante veredicto; (b) it is entitled to a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (c) the verdict is excessive. We shall consider those contentions in that order.

As to the first point, although the defendant produced evidence which, if believed, would have warranted a verdict in its favor, on appeal we must apply the oft repeated governing principle that the verdict winner is entitled to the benefit of all findings that reasonably could have been made in his favor and that all contrary evidence is to be rejected. Utility Appliance Corp. v. Kuhns, 393 Pa. 414, 143 A.2d 35; Stevens v. Reading St. Ry. Co., 384 Pa. 390, 121 A.2d 128.

Viewed in this light, the jury could have found the following facts to support the general verdict it rendered. The building which Homestead contracted to demolish was erected between April and October, 1926. It was a three story concrete structure, the walls of which were about 24 inches thick. It would appear that when originally built the building consisted of only two stories and the third was later added. Each of the first two stories, about 20 feet high, were reinforced by rods and were tied-in together; the third story, about 15 feet high, was reinforced by rods but was not tied-in to the other two, it simply rested on top of them. This condition, however, was not apparent from the outside, and apparently neither the defendant, Homestead, nor the plaintiff, Jemison, knew of it. That fact, however, could have been determined by an examination which ...


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