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HAWK v. TRUMBULL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY (11/15/60)

November 15, 1960

HAWK
v.
TRUMBULL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 176 and 177, March T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1955, No. 3053, in case of Betty B. Hawk, administratrix of estate of Doyle O. Hawk, deceased, v. Trumbull Construction Company. Judgment affirmed; reargument refused December 13, 1960.

COUNSEL

James J. Burns, Jr., with him Burns & Manley, for appellant.

Harold R. Schmidt, with him John L. Laubach, Jr., and Rose, Houston, Cooper and Schmidt, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 401 Pa. Page 571]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Ardmore Boulevard is an impressive six-lane thoroughfare which passes through Forest Hills in Allegheny County where the accident, which is the subject of this lawsuit, occurred. Three of the lanes are used

[ 401 Pa. Page 572]

    exclusively for westbound traffic, three for eastbound traffic. The westbound and eastbound lanes are separated by a car track, so that, in effect, the boulevard really constitutes two separate highways. In August, 1954, the Trumbull Construction Company, under contract with the State Highway Department, was making repairs on certain stretches of this boulevard.

In order that the work should proceed expeditiously and efficiently, and with the least inconvenience possible to the public, the designers of the job planned that while the eastbound highway was under repair, all traffic would be diverted to the westbound highway. It was agreed between the State and the construction company that, in the interests of safety, only two lanes would be used on the westbound highway - one for traffic moving eastwardly and one for traffic moving westwardly, the inner lane to remain free. Obviously, it was absolutely imperative that, with so drastic a change in the highway directions, motorists should be notified of what was taking place so that no one would attempt to enter the eastbound highway (now being repaired) or that no one travelling westwardly on the westbound highway should move over to the south lane of that highway which, of course, was to be committed to eastbound traffic exclusively.

On August 17, 1954, Doyle E. Hawk, travelling in a Dodge Sedan, entered the westbound highway at a point known as Electric Avenue and proceeded to drive westwardly on that highway as he had done for years in the past, utterly unaware (as the evidence was to demonstrate) that this highway was now being used also for eastbound traffic. With the confidence of habit and the comfort of visual assurance that all was well, since other cars were proceeding in the same westbound direction, he continued to move westwardly in the middle lane at a speed of thirty or thirty-five miles

[ 401 Pa. Page 573]

    per hour. Two cars were preceding him, one occupying the middle lane directly ahead, and another still further ahead but in the lane to his right. Hawk was on his way to pick up some automobile tires at a Kotziers Garage located at the corner of Ardmore Boulevard and Kenmore Avenue, facing the Boulevard on the south or left side as one proceeded west on Ardmore. Thus, hawk began to leave the middle lane and move toward the left so as to be on the proper side when he should reach his destination - the Kotziers Garage. But as he got into the left lane, he was suddenly ...


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