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LINSENMEYER v. STRAITS (12/01/60)

December 1, 1960

LINSENMEYER
v.
STRAITS, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 154, March T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Feb. T., 1958, No. 715, in case of Rose Marie Linsenmeyer et al. v. Carl W. Straits. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Charles G. Sweet, for appellant.

Milton D. Rosenberg, with him Bloom, Bloom & Yard, for appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 402 Pa. Page 9]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.

This litigation arises out of an accident, involving three motor vehicles, which took place in Washington County. Both Straits, the appellant, and the Linsenmeyers, appellees, instituted suits for damages for personal injuries sustained in this accident, each party alleging the collision was caused by the negligence of the other. Both actions were consolidated for trial and, after trial, the jury returned verdicts in both actions in favor of the Linsenmeyers and awarded them total verdicts of $11,500. Straits moved for judgment n.o.v. and a new trial; from the refusal of both motions and the subsequent entry of judgment on the verdicts this appeal was taken.

On appeal from the refusal to enter judgment n.o.v. the testimony must be considered in the light most favorable to the verdict winner and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom must be resolved in his favor: Muroski v. Hnath, 392 Pa. 233, 235, 139 A.2d 902; Virden v. Hosler, 387 Pa. 1, 5, 127 A.2d 110. Viewing the present record in this light, it appears that the accident occurred on November 25, 1956 on an ice covered bridge - connecting Washington and Monogahela -, the travelable portion of which was twenty-six feet in width and divided into two lanes.

[ 402 Pa. Page 10]

At the time of the accident, the Linsenmeyer vehicle - operated by Bernard Linsenmeyer, Sr., who was accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, and minor son, Bernard, - entered the bridge travelling in the eastbound lane thereof at a speed of approximately fifteen miles per hour and about thirty feet behind a motor vehicle driven in the same direction by one Wenzel. The Wenzel vehicle started to slide on the icy pavement and finally stopped in such a position that it blocked the eastbound lane. Observing this situation, the driver of the Linsenmeyer vehicle applied his brakes, began to slide and came in slight contact with the rear of the Wenzel vehicle. The Linsenmeyer vehicle then crossed the center lane and came to rest in such a position that its front end occupied approximately three and one-half feet of the thirteen foot westbound lane, leaving approximately nine feet of the lane unobstructed. Approximately eight to ten seconds elapsed from the time that the Linsenmeyer vehicle came to rest until Straits' automobile - travelling in the westbound lane - crashed into the Linsenmeyer vehicle. During this interval of eight to ten seconds, Straits' vehicle travelled at least four hundred fifty feet.

Straits contends that Bernard Linsenmeyer, under this factual situation, is barred from recovery by reason of contributory negligence. This argument for judgment n.o.v. is without merit and overlooks both the facts and the applicable law. A review of this record indicates clearly that the questions of Linsenmeyer's negligence and contributory negligence were properly submitted to the jury. It was for the jury to reconcile the conflicting testimony and contentions of Linsenmeyer and Straits, and the jury resolved these questions with a verdict for Linsenmeyer in both actions, thus negating any negligence or contributory negligence on Linsenmeyer's part.

[ 402 Pa. Page 11]

Straits advances six reasons in support of his motion for a new trial: (1) that the verdicts were against the weight of the evidence; (2) that, in considering (1), supra, the court applied an erroneous principle of law; (3) that the verdicts were excessive; (4) that the court below erroneously refused to sustain challenges for causes; (5) that counsel in his closing address to the jury employed ...


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