was a woman of approximately 50 years of age at the time of trial.
SURVIVAL ACT VERDICT.
This award in the sum of $ 45,000.00 is believed supported by adequate evidence. The jury was instructed in accordance with the applicable Pennsylvania law. It was directed to ascertain what the earnings of the deceased would have been during the period of his life expectancy and deduct from them the probable cost of his own maintenance and to reduce the amount to its present worth. In that connection, of course, it was instructed that any amount awarded to the mother under the Wrongful Death Act was to be deducted from the Survival Act award. The instruction was in accord with the principles found in Murray, Adm'r v. Philadelphia Transportation Co., 359 Pa. 69, 58 A.2d 323 (1948), and subsequent cases, as well as the Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, p. 581. The boy's life expectancy was 49.9 years. The jury award of $ 45,000.00 in this branch of the case does not seem unreasonable. In considering this item of damage there is a wide range for the jury to make a determination. This young man had demonstrated that he possessed earning power and the will to work. He was in good health. A jury heard the same evidence as the Court did and there is no way for the Court to say that the jury's verdict was wrong as to the award under the Survival Act.
WRONGFUL DEATH ACT.
What has been said with reference to the conclusiveness of the jury verdict in the Survival Act phase of the case cannot apply to the award under the Wrongful Death Act. Damages under this act are to be more precisely computed. The rule is, of course, under the Pennsylvania decisions, that the mother is entitled to damages for the destruction of the pecuniary benefit which she had been receiving from her son. In this case the evidence showed that the contributions to the mother from the son were substantial. Nevertheless, they cannot be correctly computed and reach the figure found by the jury. As indicated, the boy gave the mother $ 76.00 per week. From her own earnings and the contributions, three people lived. The mother was unable to separate the cost of the sister's support. However, this child was young and no doubt the jury could find that her benefits were received largely from the mother. It does not seem, however, under the evidence, that the mother can claim that she received over $ 2,800.00 per year from the son's wages. More than likely it was somewhat less. At 50 years of age her life expectancy was 27.5 years. The mother is held to the actual pecuniary loss suffered by her. On the other hand, considering the boy's age and his increased earnings, the contributions may have been increased or higher in amount over the years. There is, therefore, some area of inexactness in attempting to arrive at a reasonable figure under the evidence. The present worth of contributions of $ 2,500.00 per year for 27.5 years computed at 4% Interest is $ 39,125.00. At 6% Interest the amount would be smaller. The Supreme Court of the United States has indicated that the interest rate to be applied is that which persons without financial skill could safely secure on their own investments. See Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. v. Kelly, 241 U.S. 485, 36 S. Ct. 630, 60 L. Ed. 1117.
In the instant case the jury could have found that the mother's loss of contributions from the date of death to the date of trial amounted to the sum of $ 8,000.00. This sum, of course, is not to be reduced. In addition the funeral expenses which would be included in this verdict are in the sum of $ 1,305.00. Thus the jury had the sum of $ 9,305.00, which is not subject to being reduced under the present worth principle. Deducting this sum from the award of $ 104,805.00 leaves a balance of $ 95,500.00. This sum is too high under any method of computation and cannot be permitted to stand. It seems to the Court that, having in mind all the evidence and giving the mother the benefit of generosity, the most that can be allowed her is a verdict not in excess of $ 50,000.00.
Finally then, as to liability, the verdict is supported by substantial credible evidence and should be permitted to stand. Likewise, the Survival Act verdict of $ 45,000.00. A new trial will be awarded on damages under the Wrongful Death Act unless a remittitur is filed remitting all sums in excess of $ 50,000.00.
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