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HILL v. GERHEIM (11/09/65)

decided: November 9, 1965.

HILL
v.
GERHEIM, APPELLANT



Appeals from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1961, No. 2580, in case of Fred D. Hill v. Vincent Gerheim and Peoples Cab Company.

COUNSEL

George M. Weis, with him Weis & Weis, for appellant.

Clem R. Kyle, for appellant.

Emanuel Goldberg, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 419 Pa. Page 350]

Fred D. Hill sued Vincent Gerheim for personal injuries received in an automobile accident. Gerheim caused the Peoples Cab Company (Cab) to be joined as an additional defendant in the action. After trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of both defendants, specifically finding Hill guilty of negligence. The lower court granted a new trial. Both Gerheim and Cab appeal.

The collision involved occurred on March 12, 1961, about 4:30 a.m. o'clock on Liberty Avenue in the City of Pittsburgh. At the pertinent point, Liberty Avenue extends in an easterly and westerly direction and includes six traffic lanes, three for traffic traveling in each direction. At the time, Hill was operating a taxi for the Yellow Cab Company. According to his trial testimony, he was in the process of pushing with his cab a disabled cab of the Peoples Cab Company for an extended distance in a straight line in an easterly direction on Liberty Avenue, when an automobile operated by Gerheim traveling in the same direction, violently crashed into the rear of his vehicle. Hill's testimony as to the street position of all of the three vehicles involved was corroborated by the trial testimony of two witnesses (one a police officer), both of whom arrived at the scene shortly after the occurrence.

Gerheim's uncorroborated version of the accident was completely different. He testified that as he traveled east on Liberty Avenue and approached the point of impact, Hill's vehicle was traveling in a westerly direction;

[ 419 Pa. Page 351]

    that suddenly and without warning, Hill's vehicle made a U-turn coming over onto the side of the roadway reserved for easterly traveling traffic; and, that before he could bring his automobile to a stop, it collided with the right side of Hill's vehicle. He further stated that Cab's automobile was not involved in the accident and was at all times, immediately before and after the accident, parked and motionless next to the curb on his side of the road.*fn1

Hill, according to the testimony, was seriously injured in the accident. Right up to the moment of trial, he complained of frequent dizziness, headaches, nausea, inability to read, pains in the neck region and needle sensations in the right hand. Two physicians opined that in the accident he suffered a cerebral concussion with the possibility of subdural hemorrhage which caused the infirmities complained of. They further stated that several electroencephalogram tests by a neurosurgeon confirmed the existence of damage to the brain and nervous system. Hill was strongly advised against operating a motor vehicle in the future, and one medical witness stated that his condition was permanent, and the subject was "industrially unemployable".

On cross-examination of Hill, counsel for Gerheim asked, inter alia, the following questions: "Q. Do you have any tattoos? A. Of course. Q. You do? A. Yes. Q. Do you have any on your chest? A. Of course. Q. What do you have on your chest? Mr. Goldberg: Object to it as being incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. The Court: ...


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