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BRENNEMAN v. ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY. (07/02/63)

July 2, 1963

BRENNEMAN, APPELLANT,
v.
ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 12, May T., 1963, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of York County, May T., 1961, No. 284, in case of Paul E. Brenneman v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

P. Nelson Alexander, for appellant.

Robert H. Griffith, with him Markowitz, Kagen & Griffith, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 411 Pa. Page 410]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On January 13, 1960, at about 7 p.m., an automobile was seen traveling southwardly on U.S. Route No. 15 near Dillsburg in York County. It left the main

[ 411 Pa. Page 411]

    right-of-way, crossed the berm, passed over a grass plot in front of a gasoline station, returned to the highway and then after some general weaving veered off into a ditch where it abruptly stopped, its front end pointing downward at an angle of 45 degrees over a concrete culvert, its rear, like the stern of a sinking ship, raised high.

The Chief of Police, Clyde R. King, cruising in the area, saw the car astride the culvert and investigated. Inside the automobile he found the body of a woman ascertained later to be Mrs. Sara G. Brenneman. Her feet were at the pedals and her body lay on the floor. A Dr. Weldon Pyle, Jr. was summoned and, after suitable examination, pronounced the woman dead.

Her husband, Paul Brenneman, notified the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company and requested payment of $10,000 the amount of an accident policy which Mrs. Brenneman had taken out with that company, with him as the named beneficiary. The policy provided for payment of the indicated sum on proof of loss of life "resulting directly and independently of all other causes from accidental bodily injury ... (excluding such loss) resulting from ... bodily or mental infirmity or any kind of disease. ..."

The company refused payment on the basis that Mrs. Brenneman's death was not the result of an accident as defined in the policy. Brenneman brought suit and obtained a jury verdict for the face value of the policy, plus interest. The defendant made a motion for judgment n.o.v. which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed.

Dr. Weldon Pyle testified that when he examined the body of Mrs. Brenneman in the car, he noted a cut across her nose and abrasions on her knees and left shoulder. Her face was bleeding. A pool of blood some 6 or 7 inches in diameter had accumulated on the floor. An autopsy was performed by Dr. Pyle and

[ 411 Pa. Page 412]

    a Dr. James Smith. Dr. Pyle testified that Mrs. Brenneman died of a hemorrhage in the upper cervical canal and cerebella fossi, caused by physical violence to the neck and head. He stated also that Mrs. Brenneman had sustained a fracture of the odontoid process which he described as "a finger-like projection of bone from ...


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