Appeals from judgment and order of Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Nov. T., 1961, No. 39, in case of The Kaplan Trucking Company v. Coshocton Cartage, Inc., Transamerican Freight Lines, Inc., et al.
J. Perry Eckels, with him Eckels, Blystone, Fuller & Kinnunen, for plaintiff, appellant.
Stuart A. Culbertson, with him Paul E. Allen, for defendants, appellants.
Paul D. Shafer, Jr., with him Thomas, Shafer, Dornhaffer & Swick, for defendant, appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Ervin, P. J.
[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 45]
The plaintiff in this action, Kaplan Trucking Co. (Kaplan), brought suit in trespass against three defendants, Coshocton Cartage, Inc. (Coshocton), Russell T. Goddard (Goddard), and Transamerican Freight Lines, Inc. (Transamerican). A dual wheel from another approaching vehicle came loose from the vehicle, crossed the road and struck the truck hauling the plaintiff's load, thereby causing the damage to its cargo.
Plaintiff's evidence established that the truck from which the wheel separated was owned by Coshocton, was driven by a driver, Goddard, in the employ of Coshocton, and at the time the accident occurred a cardboard placard or sign was taped to the doors of the tractor cab. These signs bore the name of Transamerican Freight Lines, Inc. Underneath the cardboard placard on the body of the tractor was the name of Coshocton.
The case was submitted to the jury under the doctrine of exclusive control on the theory that once the plaintiff had established that the wheel had come loose from the trailer, the inference of negligence arose. The plaintiff took the alternative position that having shown that the truck belonged to Coshocton and was being operated by its driver, the jury could determine that the exclusive control of the vehicle was in Coshocton or, relying on the presumption that arises out of the name appearing on a commercial vehicle, it could determine that Transamerican was in exclusive control of the vehicle and that the inference as to negligence arose as to it.
[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 46]
The defendant Transamerican introduced evidence, including its lease*fn1 with Coshocton and a voucher*fn2 executed by Coshocton's president two days after the
[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 47]
accident indicating that the lease between Coshocton and Transamerican was a one-way lease extending from Coshocton, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania, and certifying that the leased vehicle was not involved in any accident on the trip covered by the lease. From this evidence Transamerican reasons that since the accident occurred during the return trip from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Coshocton, Ohio, control of the vehicle had returned to Coshocton and Transamerican had no control over the vehicle. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against ...