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HACHMEISTER v. EMPLOYERS MUTUAL LIABILITY INSURANCE CO. WISCONSIN. (04/17/61)

April 17, 1961

HACHMEISTER, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
EMPLOYERS MUTUAL LIABILITY INSURANCE CO. OF WISCONSIN.



Appeal, No. 188, March T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1957, No. 2465, in case of Hachmeister, Inc. v. Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of Wisconsin. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

J. Lawrence McBride, with him Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson, for appellant.

Harold R. Schmidt, with him Raymond G. Hasley, and Rose, Houston, Cooper and Schmidt, for appellee.

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

Author: Cohen

[ 403 Pa. Page 431]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN.

This case involves a question which has been before our court on many occasions: Did the insured give notice of the accident to the insurer as soon as practicable in accordance with the terms of their liability insurance policy contract.

Defendant, Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of Wisconsin, and plaintiff, Hachmeister, Inc., were the parties to the policy. On October 21, 1949, while the policy was in force, Govan, foreman for Dobson (a contractor engaged in making repairs to the plaintiff's loading area), was injured when a heavy radiator fell off a wall striking him and knocking him down. While he was lying on the floor with the radiator on his foot, he was seen by Charles McKenna, the plaintiff's shipper, and by C. F. Hachmeister, a vice-president of the plaintiff (both deceased at the time of the trial). Govan was rushed to the hospital by an employee of plaintiff. Harry Hachmeister, president and managing officer of plaintiff, was out of town throughout December, 1949 and during

[ 403 Pa. Page 432]

    that time Russell Ashman, who was responsible for insurance matters, was in charge of plaintiff corporation.

Howard J. Snyder, maintenance superintendent of the plaintiff, heard about the accident and went to the scene. When he arrived he was told that Govan had been struck by the radiator which was still on the floor and had been taken to the hospital. After a personal inspection of the damage he concluded that plaintiff was not at fault. He testified that had he felt that the plaintiff was responsible for the accident it would have been his duty to make a report of the occurrence. C. G. Hennings, plaintiff's general plant foreman, also arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after it happened and was told by Charles McKenna, the shipper, that one of Dobson's men had been hurt.

A short time after the accident, Howard L. Snyder, a maintenance man of plaintiff, heard that a man had been injured and was taken to the hospital. Howard L. Snyder testified that someone passing through the building told him of the accident. Robert F. Snyder, another maintenance man, heard of the accident approximately forty-five minutes after it happened.

Both Howard J. Snyder and Hennings inferred that unless an accident involved an employee of plaintiff no report was to be made to anybody about it. However, on cross-examination, Howard J. Snyder admitted that if he had believed that plaintiff was at fault, it would have been his duty to report ...


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