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LEARN v. VIVIAN (06/27/61)

June 27, 1961

LEARN
v.
VIVIAN, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 192, Jan. T., 1961, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Dec. T., 1959, No. 63, in case of William L. Learn v. Harry M. Vivian. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Raymond J. DeRaymond, with him Coffin, Grifo & DeRaymond, for appellant.

Norman Seidel, with him Charles D. Hogan, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 404 Pa. Page 340]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.

The plaintiff William L. Learn was injured at the corner of Fourth and Bushkill Streets in the city of Easton when he came into contact with an automobile owned and being operated by the defendant Harry M. Vivian. In his trespass action against the defendant, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant. The court ordered a new trial and the defendant appealed.

[ 404 Pa. Page 341]

The plaintiff testified that, intending to cross from the south to the north side of Bushkill Street, he stepped down into Bushkill Street and while he still had one foot on the curb and one on Bushkill Street, the defendant's automobile suddenly made a left turn and struck him.

The defendant denied that the accident happened in this manner. He said that the plaintiff was not crossing Bushkill Street, but Fourth Street, moving from the east to the west side of that thoroughfare. The defendant's version of the accident is that he had completely negotiated his left turn at the intersection and was heading into Fourth Street when the plaintiff appeared before him two or three steps away from the curb.

At the trial, plaintiff's counsel requested the trial judge to charge as follows: "If the jury determines that this Defendant, while turning left at the intersection of Fourth and Bushkill Streets, failed to pass to the left of the center of the intersection keeping as close as practicable to the center of the intersection and that failure had a direct casual relationship to the Plaintiff's injuries, then the jury must conclude that the Defendant was here guilty of negligence as alleged. Sec. 1011(b) of The Vehicle Code of 1929, as amended, P.L. 976, 75 PS 546(b)."

The trial judge refused this point, and the appellee maintained that this refusal constituted reversible error.

Since automobiles may change their course of direction by the slightest turn of the steering wheel, it is vitally important that some standard of conduct be established for motorists intending to turn at intersections. Otherwise pedestrians may be hurt not out of intrinsically culpable negligence on the part of the driver but simply because the driver has not been instructed ...


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