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RADIES ET VIR v. READING LIEDERKRANZ GERMAN SINGING AND SPORT SOCIETY. (03/21/62)

March 21, 1962

RADIES ET VIR, APPELLANTS,
v.
READING LIEDERKRANZ GERMAN SINGING AND SPORT SOCIETY.



Appeals, Nos. 333 and 334, Oct. T., 1961, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, April T., 1959, No. 141, in case of Edith Radies et vir v. Reading Liederkranz German Singing and Sport Society. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

Peter F. Cianci, for appellants.

Robert I. Cottom, with him Matten and Cottom, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Ervin, Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (woodside, J., absent).

Author: Wright

[ 197 Pa. Super. Page 510]

OPINION BY WRIGHT, J.

Werner Alfred Radies and his wife, Edith, filed a complaint in trespass against the Reading Liederkranz German Singing and Sport Society, a non-profit corporation, to recover damages for personal injuries sustained when Edith fell while descending a stairway leading from the second to the first floor of defendant's premises at 836 Chestnut Street in the City of Reading. At the conclusion of plaintiffs' testimony, defendant

[ 197 Pa. Super. Page 511]

    moved for a compulsory non-suit, which motion was overruled. Defendant also presented a point for binding instructions, which point was refused. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the husband-plaintiff in amount of $796.00, and a verdict in favor of the wife-plaintiff in amount of $3,704.00. The court below subsequently entered judgments in favor of the defendant non obstante verdicto, and these appeals followed.

The question before us, as stated by counsel for appellants, is as follows: "Is the plaintiffs' evidence as to defendant's negligence so totally lacking that the jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs should not be allowed to stand?" In passing on this question we must of course view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict-winners: Richardson v. Wilkes-Barre Transit Corp., 172 Pa. Superior Ct. 636, 95 A.2d 365.

The plaintiffs were their only witnesses on the question of negligence. On the night of October 25, 1958, they attended a dance on the second floor of a club owned and operated by the defendant. The sole access to the second floor was a stairway, which was admittedly well lighted. The plaintiffs had used this stairway on several prior occasions. On the night in question, the plaintiffs had walked up the stairway, along with some two hundred other persons. They were among the last to leave the dance. The wife preceded her husband. She had a purse and sweater in her left hand, and was wearing high heel shoes. The husband testified that, when his wife was about half way down the stairway, he saw her fall but did not know the cause of the fall. The wife first testified that her left foot "tripped" and her shoe fell off. Her right hand was on the bannister or railing, but she testified that it was loose. On cross-examination she testified that her left foot 'slipped" because of the smoothness of the step. Neither plaintiff inspected the stairway that evening, but the husband returned a week later to make measurements.

[ 197 Pa. Super. Page 512]

He testified that there were fifteen steps, each of which was forty inches wide. The risers were eight inches high, and the treads were nine and three-quarters inches deep. The boards constituting the treads were originally one inch thick but, away from the wall where people walked up and down, the front portions of the treads were worn down to three-eighths of an inch. At these points the paint had worn off, and the steps were smooth. The husband further testified that the grain of the wood stood up in ridges one-sixteenth of an inch high, that several of the steps rocked, and that ...


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