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ASON v. LEONHART (12/01/60)

December 1, 1960

ASON
v.
LEONHART, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 109 and 110, March T., 1960, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Sept. T., 1958, Nos. 557 and 583, in cases of Zella Ason v. Robert Leonhart, and Ruth Warner v. Same. Judgment in each case affirmed.

COUNSEL

Bernard F. Wuinn, with him Quinn, Leemhuis, Plate and Dwyer, for appellant.

Irving O. Murphy, with him Gifford, Graham, MacDonald & Illig, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 402 Pa. Page 313]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL.

Leonhart, the original defendant in Zella Ason's suit and the defendant in Ruth Warner's suit, asks for judgment n.o.v. or, in the alternative, for a new trial. Both motions were refused by the lower Court. The cases were tried in the Court below and argued together in this Court.

Mrs. Ason, plaintiff in the first case, was a guest passenger in a car driven by Mrs. Warner, who was the plaintiff in the second case. Both actions were commenced against Robert Leonhart, the driver of the vehicle which crashed into the other car. In Mrs. Ason's case Leonhart joined Mrs. Warner as an additional defendant, and in Mrs. Warner's case defendant counterclaimed for damages.

[ 402 Pa. Page 314]

On September 6, 1957, at approximately 11:10 p.m., Mrs. Warner with Mrs. Ason as a passenger drove her car out of Mrs. Ason's (rural) driveway onto Route 20. Route 20 was a three lane improved highway. Mrs. Warner intended to drive east and in order to do so had to cross the highway and turn left. The testimony on behalf of Mrs. Warner and Mrs. Ason was that Mrs. Warner as she came out of the driveway stopped and looked both ways for traffic; she allowed one or two cars coming from her right to pass in front of her; she then looked both ways and seeing nothing coming drove out onto the highway. Route 20 curved toward the north, with the result that according to plaintiff Mrs. Warner had a visibility to the east of about 190 feet, and according to defendant a visibility of about 300 feet. According to plaintiffs' testimony, Mrs. Warner crossed the highway and was traveling in her right-hand lane at least two car lengths before the accident. She did not see defendant, who was approaching from the opposite direction with his headlights on, until he was almost upon her. She attempted to justify this failure by the curve and by the assumed great speed of defendant's car. According to plaintiffs' version, defendant must have lost control of his car because he suddenly crashed into her car, which, we repeat, was in her right-hand lane. According to defendant's testimony, Mrs. Warner suddenly shot out of the Ason driveway and confronted with the sudden emergency he put on his brakes, turned to his left to avoid the collision and ran into her car. Defendant was corroborated in material respects by two children aged 11 and 12. According to defendant this collision resulted from an emergency which was created by Mrs. Warner's sudden and negligent darting onto the highway.

All three suffered severe injuries. The jury, as we shall hereinafter discuss, found a verdict finally in

[ 402 Pa. Page 315]

    favor of Mrs. Ason against Leonhart in the amount of $5500.03, and in favor of Mrs. Warner against Leonhart for $1926.44. The verdict in favor of Mrs. Warner was for medical and hospital expenses, auto ...


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