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DAVIDSON v. EAGAL (07/02/63)

July 2, 1963

DAVIDSON
v.
EAGAL, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 30, March T., 1963, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, March T., 1958, No. 56, in case of John Robert Davidson v. John L. Eagal. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

William C. Robinson, with him Henninger & Robinson, for appellant.

No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 411 Pa. Page 540]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE O'BRIEN

On September 29, 1958, a collision occurred between motor vehicles operated by these parties. Each filed an action of trespass against the other and the cases were consolidated for trial. The jury trial resulted in verdicts for each defendant in his respective case.

[ 411 Pa. Page 541]

Eagal moved for a new trial in the case in which he was plaintiff. Davidson made no post trial motions and, in due course, judgment was entered on the jury's verdict for Eagal in the case in which Davidson was plaintiff. The court below granted Eagal's motion for a new trial in the Eagal v. Davidson matter and also, on its own motion, granted a new trial in the Davidson v. Eagal case. Eagal appeals from the latter action of the court below.

We will not reverse the grant of a new trial unless there was a clear abuse of discretion or an error of law which controlled the outcome of the case. F.C. Haab Co., Inc. v. Peltz Street Terminal, Inc., 407 Pa. 276, 180 A.2d 35 (1962); Bohner v. Eastern Express, Inc., 405 Pa. 463, 175 A.2d 864 (1961); Segriff v. Johnston, 402 Pa. 109, 166 A.2d 496 (1960).In order to determine whether the court below abused its discretion, we must examine its opinion which sets forth the reasons for its action. McArthur v. Balas, 402 Pa. 116, 166 A.2d 640 (1961).

The court below assigned only one reason for the granting of Eagal's motion for a new trial. That reason was that as the court summarized the contentions of the parties in its charge, it appeared that the court was finding the facts for the jury. The sole basis for the award of a new trial to Eagal as plaintiff is contained in the following excerpt from the opinion below:

"It is the practice of this Court in charging juries to set forth for them as clearly and fairly as possible the respective contentions of each party in interest that juries may fully understand the issues involved and to be decided. All this we attempted to do in the consolidated trials of these two cases.

"We commenced our charge in the following language: 'The first case is the case of John Robert Davidson versus John L. ...


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