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DEVINE v. HOLLANDER (06/15/60)

June 15, 1960

DEVINE
v.
HOLLANDER, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 50, Feb. T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Nov. T., 1958, No. 108, in case of Charlotte Devine v. Florence Hollander. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Harry P. O'Neill, Jr., with him Walsh and O'Neill, for appellant.

William J. Oliver, with him Oliver, Howell & Oliver, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ. (gunther, J., absent).

Author: Montgomery

[ 192 Pa. Super. Page 644]

OPINION BY MONTGOMERY, J.

Plaintiff (appellee), a tenant in a multiple dwelling owned by appellant recovered a jury verdict against her landlord for personal injuries sustained when she fell in an area at the rear of the building as she was returning to her home after dark. This appeal is from the order of the court below refusing appellant's motion for judgment n.o.v. and entering judgment on the verdict.

The appellant offered no evidence at the trial and, since the appellee was awarded the verdict, the testimony offered by her and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be considered in the light most favorable to her.

Appellant operated a three-story building containing a storeroom on the first floor and four apartments above. Access to the apartments was by means of two stairways, one inside the building and one outside. The outside one ran alongside the building from the street up to the second floor level. From there it was necessary for a person using same to cross a small yard to the back porch on that level, from which another set of stairs rose to the third floor apartment occupied by appellee. Appellee used the outside passage regularly day and night rather than the inside one because the latter was steeper and involved more steps, which affected

[ 192 Pa. Super. Page 645]

    her health and caused her to have a shortness of breath when she used same.

Appellee described the conditions of the yard area that she was required to cross to reach her apartment as being washed out, rough, with gravel and rocks, and containing two large stones, one being eleven by eight inches in dimension and protruding three to four inches out of the ground, the other being six by seven inches and protruding one and one-half to two inches out of the ground, and both located near a single concrete step which led up to the porch. The distance which she was required to travel between the corner of the building and the porch step was about four feet. The condition of this area was about the same from the time she moved into the premises in the fall of 1956 until the night she fell, March 30, 1957.

There was a light on an extension bracket at the top of the steps running along the building which illuminated those steps, as well as part of the yard area, and which was burning on the night of the accident. A light on the porch which could be turned on by appellee and other tenants when needed was also available. This light was not on when appellee fell, she not having turned it on when she left her home and not having reached the pull string which controlled it before she fell. The lighting conditions at the scene of her fall were testified by her as follows: "By the Court: Q. What was the condition of the ground where you fell as far as illumination was concerned? A. It was a shadow. Q. Was it light or dark? A. It was dark to me. Q. Could you see the ground? A. I was very careful. I ...


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