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December 17, 1959


Appeal, No. 132, April T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1953, No. 1696, in case of Joseph Jarnot et al. v. Ford Motor Company et al. Judgment, as amended, affirmed.


William C. Walker, with him David H. Trushel, and Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson, for appellant.

A. H. Rosenberg, with him Rosenberg and Rosenberg, for plaintiffs, appellees.

George I. Buckler, for distributor, appellee.

Before Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).

Author: Hirt

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 425]


The plaintiffs, of the Borough of Export, Pennsylvania, are engaged in the trucking business as carriers of freight over the highways, both intra and interstate. For use in their business they bought a Model F-8 Ford tractor, with cab and chassis, from W. J. Tracey Company of the Borough of Braddock, this State, an authorized dealer in Ford Motor vehicles. Plaintiffs paid the full purchase price of $4,973 and took delivery of the tractor on or about June 20, 1951. In normal use for which it was manufactured and sold, the tractor on August 7, 1951 was drawing a trailer with a cargo of steel coils weighing 33,000 pounds. The tractor was then operated by a driver of long experience in the service of plaintiff. On that day the shipment was en route from Cincinnati, Ohio, bound for the Irvin Works of United States Steel Corporation at Dravosburg, Pennsylvania. On Highway Route 40, a macadam road, at a point about four miles west of the City of Washington, this State, the driver on turning the tractor on a curve to the left on a down grade suddenly heard a sharp report, "a loud cracking sound or bang" emanating from the front of the truck. An essential part of the steering mechanism - the kingpin - had broken and as a result the driver lost control of the tractor; he was unable to direct its course and could not bring it to a stop because the air line operating the brakes had been severed. As a result of the broken kingpin the right front wheel of the tractor came off its axle and was bent under the vehicle as the tractor came to rest on its rights side, just off the highway. The trailer also was overturned onto its right side with the rear end extending to the center of the highway.

As to this defendant the action was in assumpsit for damages from the alleged breach of an implied warranty by Ford Motor Company, as to the fitness of the

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 426]

    tractor for the uses for which it was designed, manufactured and sold. The trailer could not be repaired and was a total loss; it cost $1,700 to repair the tractor. The jury found for the plaintiffs and against the Ford Motor Company in the sum of $4,800 for the value of the trailer when destroyed plus the cost of repairing the tractor. Motions for judgment for this defendant n.o.v. and for a new trial were refused and judgment was entered; hence this appeal.

In the light of the verdict we must take these facts as established by the evidence at the trial; the trailer was of conventional type, 30 feet long; the steel was properly chained and blocked to the bed of the trailer and there was no shifting of the load; the hauling capacity of the tractor was 39,000 pounds and the trailer was not overloaded; plaintiffs' employe was a driver with long experience in operating trucks and tractors; this was his third trip with the tractor here involved; he was traveling at 30 miles per hour but he had slowed down and at the time of collapse of the front end on the hill, his tractor was in "5th gear low speed"; the day was clear and the surface of the pavement was smooth and dry; there was no testimony from any witness of the existence of any hole, rut or other defect in the surface of the pavement in the vicinity of the breakdown of the tractor; plaintiffs' driver was proceeding on his proper right-hand side of the cartway and the tractor had not been involved, at any time after purchase, in any collision with any other vehicle or thing; the damages to plaintiffs' tractor and trailer were proximately caused by the failure of the kingpin, the broken pieces of which were seen by the witness who first arrived at the scene.

Upon sufficient competent evidence the verdict also establishes that after the first trip of the tractor another driver had complained of hard steering and a noise in ...

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