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SIMPKINS ET AL. v. RICHEY. (03/24/60)

March 24, 1960

SIMPKINS ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
RICHEY.



Appeals, Nos. 487 and 488, Oct. T., 1959, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, May T., 1959, No. 55, in cases of Doris P. Simpkins, a minor, by and through her guardian, Kirtie L. Simpkins v. Raymond Richey, and JoAnne Simpkins, a minor, by and through her guardian, Kirtie L. Simpkins v. Same. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

G. Clinton Fogwell, with him Reilly & Fogwell, for appellants.

William H. Mitman, with him Stively and Mitman, for appellee.

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

Author: Wright

[ 192 Pa. Super. Page 47]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

At about 1:00 A.M. on August 16, 1957, Doris P. Simpkins and her sister, Joanne Simpkins, then aged slightly less than 16 and 15 years respectively, were riding as passengers in a motor vehicle owned and operated by Raymond A. Richey, then aged 18 years. Along highway route No. 896, north of New London in Chester County, the motor vehicle collided with a utility pole. A trespass action was instituted by the two girls, through their father as guardian, and by their father in his own right to recover damages for the personal injuries sustained. After a three-day trial

[ 192 Pa. Super. Page 48]

    the jury returned a verdict in favor of each minor in the sum of $600.00, and in favor of the father in the sum of $2,700.00. A motion by the minor plaintiffs for a new trial was overruled, and judgment was entered on the verdict. The minor plaintiffs have appealed.

Appellants' sole contention on this appeal is that the lower court erred in not granting a new trial on the ground that the verdict of only $600.00 for each minor plaintiff was grossly inadequate. It is the position of the appellee that the verdict was a compromise, that the awards to appellants were substantial in amount, and that the court below did not abuse its discretion in overruling the motion for a new trial.

The general rule in cases of this nature is well settled, and was thus restated by Mr. Justice BOK in Elza v. Chovan, 396 Pa. 112, 152 A.2d 238, quoting from Zamojc v. Fisher, 127 Pa. Superior Ct. 171, 193 A. 315: "The granting or refusal of a new trial because of the inadequacy of the verdict is a matter peculiarly within the discretion of the trial court, and it is the rule in this State that an appellate court will not reverse the action of the court below unless the verdict is so unreasonable as to bring conviction that it was influenced by partiality or prejudice or some misconception of the law or the evidence in the case... and establish a clear case of wrong and injustice in the court below". See also Takac v. Bamford, 370 Pa. 389, 88 A.2d 86; Perzak v. Coulter, 171 Pa. Superior Ct. 475, 90 A.2d 256.

In the words of Mr. Justice BELL in Kite v. Jones, 389 Pa. 339, 132 A.2d 683: "The test or standard for an appellate court is clear but ofttimes difficult to apply: Is the verdict so excessive or inadequate that its affirmance constitutes a manifest abuse of discretion". In Paustenbaugh v. Ward Baking Co., 374 Pa. 418, 97 A.2d 816, ...


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