Appeals, Nos. 163 and 164, Jan. T., 1961, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Jan. T., 1955, No. 304, in case of Harry R. Williams v. H. E. Stoudt & Son, Inc. et al. Judgment affirmed.
Laurence H. Eldredge, with him E. G. Scoblionko, for appellant.
O. Jacob Tallman, with him Robert G. Tallman, and Butz, Hudders, Tallman, Huston & Wieand, for appellees.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN.
This is an action for personal injuries tried before a judge without a jury by agreement. Specific findings of fact and conclusions of law were found by the trial judge and a decision rendered in favor of the defendants. Plaintiff's exceptions to the findings and conclusions were dismissed by the court en banc and a final judgment for the defendants entered. These appeals followed.
The trial court found, inter alia, that "the plaintiff's own careless and negligent conduct contributed to the production of his injuries," which fact barred recovery. It is established beyond argument that the findings of a trial judge which are supported by competent evidence and confirmed by the court en banc have
the weight of a jury's verdict: Erie Coach Co. v. Erie Bus Co., 399 Pa. 76, 160 A.2d 405 (1960). It is equally true that this principle is confined to findings that are true and genuine findings of fact. "With respect to inferences... and conclusions of law, both the Court en banc and the appellate Courts have the power to draw their own inferences and make their own deductions and conclusions": Kalyvas v. Kalyvas, 371 Pa. 371, 375, 376, 89 A.2d 819 (1952). Also, when "findings of fact are clearly or manifestly erroneous or were arbitrarily made or if the record indicates that the trial judge failed to comprehend and understand the evidence, such findings of fact may be overruled": Claughton v. Bear Stearns & Co., 397 Pa. 480, 488, 156 A.2d 314 (1959).
Our study of the record confirms the existence of sufficient facts to sustain the lower court's factual conclusion that the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence.
The plaintiff, a journeyman electrician, was acting as foreman for his employer, a subcontractor, doing the electrical work incident to the construction of a new school building. The defendants are the general contractor, who built the building, and a subcontractor, who erected a permanently attached vertical iron ladder to a portion of the outside of the building. Plaintiff was seriously injured when he fell from this ladder. This ladder provided access to and from the roof level over the snack bar. It extended upwards 19 feet 1 3/4 inches, with its side bars extending upwards to the top of a gooseneck 3 feet 6 inches above the top rung. The rungs were 18 inches long and 3/4 inch round.
On the day in question, plaintiff was inside the building when he was summoned by an employee of the roofing contractor to examine a ventilation unit located on the roof over the snack bar. Plaintiff ascended an ...