Appeals, Nos. 239 and 261, March T., 1960, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1956, No. 694, in case of Andy Vardzel v. Dravo Corporation. Order overruling motion for judgment non obstante veredicto affirmed; order directing remittitur or a new trial reversed.
P. J. McArdle, with him Frank J. Kernan, for plaintiff.
Hamilton A. Robinson, with him Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson for defendant.
Before Jones, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK.
This is the case of a man falling into a ditch and suffering rather severe injuries. The jury gave him $55,000, and the court below refused defendant's motion for judgment n.o.v. but ordered a new trial unless plaintiff should remit $35,000 of the verdict. Both sides appealed.
The questions are whether the Workmen's Compensation Act applies; whether the defendant was negligent and the plaintiff contributorily negligent; and whether the verdict was excessive.
The plaintiff worked for defendant as a light cleaner. The defendant's property, on Neville Island, Allegheny County, was traversed by Grand Avenue, a public street, the plant lying south of it and a parking lot, marine ways, and other facilities of the defendant on the north in such a pattern that the parking lot was bounded on three sides by defendant's property and on the fourth by the street. The accident happened in the parking lot.
Plaintiff worked from 4:30 p.m. to 12:24 a.m. on June 30, 1955, having parked his car in the lot. This lot measured 210 by 420 feet, with a hard slag top, and the parking rows, with passageway between, ran north and south, as did a series of drainage ditches. These ditches began near the north side of the lot without depth and developed to the south. They were 5 to 6 feet wide and had 8-foot lengths of log bordering each side of each ditch: where there was depth in the ditches stringers had been placed across some of them and nailed to the logs, some of which were themselves anchored by spikes driven a foot into the slag on either side. The lot itself was fenced in but could be entered by openings in its eastern and western sides.
Plaintiff parked his car five or six rows in from the western entrance. When he returned after his shift there was enough light for him to see his way into the parking lot and along a passageway to the row in which his car was. From there to his car it got darker and darker as he proceeded, until it was "real dark", so much so that although he was watching where he was ...