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LACICH v. ROBB (11/09/65)

decided: November 9, 1965.

LACICH
v.
ROBB, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Feb. T., 1960, No. 22, in case of Stanley Lacich v. William Robb, Jack Hornbake and William Sekulich.

COUNSEL

Francis H. Patrono, with him John C. Pettit, and Patrono & Edwards, for appellant.

Wray G. Zelt, for appellee.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 419 Pa. Page 338]

Stanley Lacich was a passenger on a pickup truck being operated southbound by William Sekulich on Route No. 837 in Washington County. William Robb, employee of Jack Hornbake, was operating a coal truck northbound on the same Route 837. At a point about one mile north of Courtney, the two trucks collided and Lacich was seriously injured. He brought suit in trespass against Robb and Hornbake and, later, Sekulich was brought into the litigation as an additional defendant. Robb never really became a party in the case because he was never served. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff against Hornbake who moved for a new trial.

The motion for a new trial was argued on December 30, 1963, and the court en banc on January 3, 1964, filed its decision denying a new trial. On January 14, 1964, Hornbake petitioned the court for a reargument

[ 419 Pa. Page 339]

    stating that the court which denied his motion for a new trial had not given adequate consideration to his motion, because the trial judge's term of office was to expire on January 6, 1964. The new court en banc heard the reargument and decided not to interfere with the decision of the preceding court en banc which had been made up of the trial judge and two other judges.

Hornbake appealed to this Court. He finds reason to complain because the trial court rendered a decision on his motion for a new trial in four days. If this was a fault, it is a fault that might well be adopted by other judges because, ever since 1602 when Hamlet lamented over the "law's delays," litigants and lawyers have been patiently waiting for decisions for a much longer period than four days while undisposed-of motions gathered dust on the desks and piled-up chairs of the judicial sanctum-sanctorum.

It is not apparent why four days was not an adequate length of time with which to decide the question in issue. The record was only 150 pages long, there were no complicated theories involved, no mathematics, no engineering or controverted documents. Fundamentally the only problem was one of credibility of the witness. Since the trial judge had seen and heard the witnesses he certainly was at home on this subject even before argument on the motion.

The appellant Hornbake does not state that he was not given an opportunity to present his case in full at his original argument on his motion for a new trial. The appellee points out in his brief (not refuted by the appellant) that the appellant's brief in the original argument consisted of 25 pages and that no limitation was placed on his oral presentation in court. ...


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