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LAURELLI v. SHAPIRO (01/05/65)

decided: January 5, 1965.

LAURELLI
v.
SHAPIRO, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 5 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1955, No. 3705, in case of City of Philadelphia, in its own right, and Anthony Laurelli, individually and to the use of City of Philadelphia, and William R. Kates, individually and to the use of City of Philadelphia, et al. v. William Shapiro and Anthony Laurelli.

COUNSEL

James M. Marsh, with him Joseph G. Manta, and LaBrum and Doak, for appellant.

I. Raymond Kremer, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno.

Author: Musmanno

[ 416 Pa. Page 310]

On Christmas Day of 1954, Anthony Laurelli, then 50 years of age, was injured when a rescue truck of the City of Philadelphia which he was driving, was struck by an automobile owned by the defendant William Shapiro. The jury returned a money verdict in favor of Laurelli.*fn1 Laurelli had been previously injured in an accident in 1948, and it is the contention of the defendant, who has here appealed, that whatever may be Laurelli's symptoms of illness or disablement, they are not the result of what happened on December 25, 1954. The plaintiff admits his accident of 1948 but insists that the mishap in 1954 reactivated and aggravated his previously existing ailment. The defendant also claims that the plaintiff's infirmities do not rise to the state of disablement claimed by him.

When the defendant's automobile collided with the city truck being driven by the plaintiff, an oxygen bottle in the truck broke loose from its moorings and hit the plaintiff, his chest then violently came into contact with the steering wheel and the left side of his head struck the door of the truck. He was rendered unconscious and was taken to the Nazareth Hospital but transferred, at his request, to the Philadelphia General Hospital, which maintains a special ward

[ 416 Pa. Page 311]

    for firemen. He returned to work about a month after the accident, but, because of the constant head pain which assailed him, he was re-hospitalized for treatment. In July, 1955 he was unable to continue at his regular employment in the fire department and the city assigned him to odd light duty jobs, at which he continued until 1958. During this period he received every five days, at the Philadelphia General Hospital, histamine injections. In 1958, the pains had reached such a state of severity that Dr. Olson operated on him in an attempt to give him relief. He described the operation as follows: "We go in through the skull and lift the base of the brain off the floor of the skull and pick up this little tiny nerve and cut it."

This cerebral surgery apparently afforded the patient some relief but in time the pains returned in all their severity and he had again to go into the municipal clinic for treatment and medication. As late as May, 1963, he was hospitalized for ten days and up to the time of the trial (September, 1963), was receiving histamine injections every five days.

Five doctors testified to the plaintiff's condition: Dr. Olsen, surgeon; Dr. Caracciolo, city physician; Dr. Brunetti, Chief Police and Fire Department Surgeon for City of Philadelphia; Dr. Channick, specialist in internal medicine. Dr. Olsen diagnosed the plaintiff's disability as histamine cephalalgia and explained: "Histamine cephalalgia is a name given to a group of symptoms such as Mr. Laurelli describes of recurring episodes of pain involving one side of his face and the lower part of the head, coming frequently at night, wakening the patient from sleep, lasting for an hour or two and subsiding, and during the episodes of pain the patient has flushing of the face on that side, injection of the eye, tearing of the eye, and usually mucous running from his nose."

[ 416 Pa. Page 312]

The plaintiff himself expressed in rather vivid language the pain he underwent the night of the accident: "It got to the roof of your mouth and then it came up to the lip, up to the nose, over the eye, in the middle of the forehead, all around. God, you could almost feel every hair on your head. It was ...


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