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KEASEY v. PITTSBURGH & LAKE ERIE RAILROAD COMPANY (05/02/61)

May 2, 1961

KEASEY
v.
PITTSBURGH & LAKE ERIE RAILROAD COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 153, March T., 1960, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1954, No. 1057, in case of Gertrude C. Keasey, administratrix of estate of Donald Keasey, deceased, v. The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Company. Judgment. affirmed.

COUNSEL

Gilbert J. Helwig, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellant.

Louis Vaira, with him Carmen V. Marinaro, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 404 Pa. Page 64]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

State highway route 224 crosses at right angles a single track of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad near Hillsville in Lawrence County. On August 11, 1953 Donald Keasey was operating a Ford V-8 tractor with tandem flatbed trailer in a westerly direction on this highway. He arrived at the crossing known as the Quaker Falls Crossing simultaneously with a train moving southwardly on the track and in the ensuing collision he was killed.

The Administratrix of his estate brought death and survival actions against the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company and recovered, in the trial before a judge and jury, verdicts in the sums of $20,000 and $5,000. Upon the lower court's refusal of a motion for judgment n.o.v. the defendant appealed.

Applying the rule that in considering the refusal of a judgment n.o.v., the record must be read in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, the circumstances which brought about the death of Donald Keasey may be reconstructed as follows:

The Quaker Falls Crossing has a sylvan setting. It is embowered in trees and shrubbery and the track from the north approaches curvingly over a bridge

[ 404 Pa. Page 65]

    spanning a rustic stream with a waterfall. These attractive manifestations of nature's and man's work innocently conspired to produce a peril to pedestrians and motorists who might find themselves at the crossing without advance physical warning of its proximity.

In the early morning of the day of the accident which is the subject of this lawsuit, fog rose from the stream and, mingling with the surrounding trees and shrubbery, further concealed the crossing from the view of passersby. As time advanced, however, atmospheric pressure and wind currents here and there rent the curtain of the ...


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