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LEWIS v. UNITED STATES RUBBER COMPANY (07/01/64)

July 1, 1964

LEWIS
v.
UNITED STATES RUBBER COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 44, Jan. T., 1964, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Nov. T., 1961, No. 26, in case of William Lewis v. United States Rubber Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Hugh J. McMenamin, with him Harvey Gelb, and Warren, Hill, Henkelman & McMenamin, for appellant.

Paul A. Barrett, with him John M. Kelly, John J. Scott, and Nogi, O'Malley & Harris, for appellee.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 414 Pa. Page 628]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE O'BRIEN

Appellee suffered personal injuries when a tire, which he was mounting on a wheel, exploded in his face. He brought an action of trespass against appellant, the manufacturer of the tire involved. A jury trial resulted in a verdict for appellee in the amount of $12,500. Appellant's motion for judgment n.o.v. was denied, as was its motion for new trial, with the proviso that appellee remit $2,500 of the jury verdict. Appellee's remittitur was duly filed and judgment was entered on the modified verdict; this appeal followed.

In considering a motion for judgment n.o.v., the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences therefrom, are considered in the light most favorable to the verdict winner. Pritts v. Wigle, 414 Pa. 309, 200 A.2d 386 (1964); Chambers v. Montgomery, 411 Pa. 339, 192 A.2d 355 (1963). Viewed in the light of this oftstated standard of review, the evidence reveals the following factual situation, as well summarized by the court below: "The accident occurred on December 18, 1959, while plaintiff was engaged in installing new tires on a repair truck. Plaintiff, an automotive mechanic of thirty years' experience, was employed by the City of Scranton in the repair and maintenance of police and fire department vehicles and equipment. He had mounted thousands of automotive tires in his trade. The tires in suit were manufactured by the defendant, United States Rubber Company at its plant in Chicopee Falls, Mass., and were purchased by the City of Scranton through a retailer, Barrett Tires &

[ 414 Pa. Page 629]

Sales, on December 3, 1959, when they were delivered and stored in a stock room until the date of the accident.

"On the day of the accident, plaintiff removed the old tires from the truck wheels and proceeded to install the new ones. He visually inspected the tire involved in the accident and felt around the edges and inside of the same with his hands before mounting. He found nothing wrong. Plaintiff then inserted an inner tube, lubricated the tire with a soapy solution and pushed it on the rim of the wheel with his hands. He discovered nothing wrong as he manipulated the tire on the rim. No tire iron or other tool was used. Plaintiff removed the tire and wheel from a mounting machine and looked at both sides of the tire to see if they were correctly seated against the rim. The tire is constructed with a metal bead which must be squarely seated against the rim. Finding the tire properly seated plaintiff who was kneeling over the work began to inflate the tire and was reaching for a gauge to check the tire pressure when it exploded. The wheel and tire arose from the ground and struck plaintiff in the face. He was severely cut around the mouth and lips and his teeth were knocked out."

An x-ray, after the accident, disclosed that the wire bead, which is incorporated in the fabric of the tire, not visible on visual inspection and designed to seat the tire against the rim, was entirely severed. There was no mark on the tire such as would indicate that it had suffered a blow or other force which might have severed or weakened the bead.

Appellant argues that there was no evidence from which the jury could find that the accident was caused by a defective steel bead and that, in any event, the evidence did not warrant a finding of negligence on the ...


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