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PHILADELPHIA v. PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (06/03/60)

June 3, 1960

PHILADELPHIA
v.
PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 209 and 210, Jan. T., 1960, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1957, No. 3032, in case of City of Philadelphia et al. v. Philadelphia Transportation Company. Judgments affirmed; reargument refused July 1, 1960.

COUNSEL

Philip Price, with him R. B. Kunkel, James Conwell Welsh, and Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers & Rhoads, for appellant.

Morris L. Rush, with him I. Raymond Kremer, and Rush and Kremer, for appellees.

Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, with him Anthony Ryan, Assistant City Solicitor, Joseph Furlong, Deputy City Solicitor, and David Berger, City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 400 Pa. Page 317]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

While pursuing a stolen automobile over the streets of Philadelphia, firing shots in an endeavor to stop the escaping car, Police Officer Joseph P. Echeverria smashed into a bus of the Philadelphia Transportation Company which had moved into his path despite audible and visual warnings of the police-robber chase. Echeverria sustained serious injuries.

The policeman and the City of Philadelphia sued the Philadelphia Transportation Company and were respectively

[ 400 Pa. Page 318]

    awarded verdicts by the jury in the sum of $10,000 and $6,830.20, the latter for damages done to the police car ($1,129.45), hospital expenses incurred in behalf of Echeverria ($1,819.75), and disability benefits paid to Echeverria ($3,881).

The defendant bus company has appealed seeking judgment n.o.v., or, in the alternative, a new trial. It is the contention of the appellant that the collision between the bus and the police car occurred because of the reckless driving of Echeverria himself. Reading the testimony in the light most favorable to the verdict winners, as is required in an appellate review of the denial of a judgment n.o.v., the following facts emerge from the record. On Sunday afternoon, September 9, 1956, while patrolling the streets in a police car in the vicinity of Fisher's Lane and Ramona Street, Echeverria saw a Chevrolet car bearing a license plate whose number he had heard that morning as being that of a stolen car. He immediately started toward the suspected Chevrolet whose driver, after a glance at the red police car, conspicuously carrying POLICE signs, stepped heavily on the gasoline pedal and dashed away. Echeverria took up pursuit, shouting into his radio microphone: "Emergency, 3508 in pursuit of stolen automobile."

An Emergency Patrol Car (#3500), armed with siren and red flashing light signals, answered the call and at once joined in the chase, following Echeverria at a distance of some 300 feet, its audible and visual signals working continuously. After various twists and turns over various streets, Echeverria and the Emergency Patrol Car got on to Adams Street following the stolen car which was heading eastwardly. When Echeverria came to a point about a half ...


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