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BEDILLION v. FRAZEE. (07/31/62)

July 31, 1962

BEDILLION, APPELLANT,
v.
FRAZEE.



Appeal, No. 195, March T., 1962, from order of Superior Court, April T., 1961, No. 295, reversing judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Sept. T., 1959, No. 221, in case of Jeanne A. Bedillion and Harry H. Bedillion v. Mary L. Frazee. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Sanford S. Finder, with him Vincent R. Massock, for appellants.

August L. Sismondo, with him James M. Marsh, and LaBrum and Doak, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 408 Pa. Page 283]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

Mrs. Jeanne A. Bedillion was seriously injured when the car in which she was riding as a passenger left the highway (Route 19) in Washington County and crashed into a concrete abutment. She and her husband, Harry A. Bedillion, brought an action of trespass against the defendant, Mary L. Frazee, the driver of the car, and in the ensuing trial the jury returned a verdict in her favor in the sum of $1000 and in favor of her husband in the amount of $1500. The trial court, after an appropriate motion, declared the verdicts to be "unreasonable low" and ordered a new trial. The defendant appealed to the Superior Court and the Superior Court reversed the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County. We granted allocatur.

This Court has frequently said that an order awarding a new trial for inadequacy of verdict will not be reversed on appeal unless there has been "clear," "palpable," or "gross" abuse of discretion.*fn1 Although different adjectives have been used in describing the type of abuse which will call for a reversal of the order granting a new trial, it is abundantly clear that the appellate rule in Pennsylvania is to refrain from interfering with decisions of trial courts in situations of this character unless the order is one which cannot stand up in the light of reason. Certainly there is nothing in this case which would justify characterizing the lower court's order as one which flouts reason, defies good judgment, or challenges justice.

On the contrary, the record would not only justify the lower court's awarding of a new trial, but practically compel it to act as it did. Because of the accident Mrs. Bedillion sustained a brain concussion and injuries to her eyes, head, back, neck and legs.

[ 408 Pa. Page 284]

Employed as a waitress she was compelled to remain away from her position for four months. She eventually returned to her job, not because she was well, but because economic conditions compelled her to resume remunerative work. At the time of the trial, a year and a half after the accident, she was still suffering from the effects of her injuries. Her eye condition was such that objects before her vision seemed framed in "fuzziness," she had muscular spasms in the neck area, she felt recurrent pains in her left shoulder and left knee, she was nervous and had difficulty in sleeping, she fatigued easily and could not stand for any long period of time. Dr. Emil Sposato testified that, on account of the injuries resulting from the accident, she would have a painful and disabled future: "She will have to look froward to several things as a result of the injury she received, one, she will have to look forward to any complication that may arise as a result of the concussion she received. These things do happen sometimes, yes, after a concussion. Two, she will have to look out for eye changes that might result from the severe injury that she had to her eyes. Three, she will have to look out for increase in disability in the injury to her neck; fourth, she will have to look out for disability as a result of injury to the lower back, five, she will have to look out for increase in the arthritic condition of her back as a result of having had her back injured."

The defendant argues that "The $2500 verdict is double the amount of all the special damages", but "special damages" do not cover the whole gamut of losses in personal injury cases. In this case there was also the item of pain and suffering endured and what could be still forthcoming, there was the item of medical expenses in the future, and there was the item of ...


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