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CONNOLLY v. PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (01/17/66)

decided: January 17, 1966.

CONNOLLY
v.
PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 2 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1959, No. 2809, in case of Rose Mary Connolly v. Philadelphia Transportation Company.

COUNSEL

James Conwell Welsh, for appellant.

Mitchell A. Kramer, with him David C. Harrison and Matthew Kramer, for appellee.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 420 Pa. Page 282]

On May 7, 1959, plaintiff-appellee sustained personal injuries as a result of a sudden stop of a bus owned by defendant-appellant and operated by its employee, Angelo Lapent. An action of trespass was instituted by appellee and culminated in a jury verdict for appellee. Appellant's motion for judgment n.o.v. and, in the alternative, for a new trial, was denied, and judgment was entered on the verdict of the jury; this appeal followed.

At approximately 5:00 p.m., Rose Mary Connolly, plaintiff-appellee, was a passenger on appellant's bus, traveling east in the second lane from the curb on South Penn Square, located on the south side of City Hall in Philadelphia, when a truck, which had entered South Penn Square from Broad Street, cut in front of the bus, causing the bus driver to stop the bus suddenly. Appellee, who had just risen from her seat preparing to disembark, was thrown to the floor with such force as to render her unconscious. Appellee sustained serious injuries to her person, and the jury awarded her $27,000.

Appellant contends: (1) that there was not sufficient evidence from which the jury could find the defendant-appellant was negligent; (2) that the verdict of $27,000 for damages was excessive; (3) that the trial court erred in its charge in allowing the jury to consider the awarding of compensation for future pain and suffering.

[ 420 Pa. Page 283]

In considering a motion for judgment n.o.v., the evidence together with all reasonable inferences therefrom is considered in the light most favorable to the verdict winner. Lewis v. United States Rubber Co., 414 Pa. 626, 202 A.2d 20 (1964); Pritts v. Wigle, 414 Pa. 309, 200 A.2d 386 (1964); Chambers v. Montgomery, 411 Pa. 339, 192 A.2d 355 (1963), and in reviewing on appeal, we stated in Vignoli v. Standard M. Freight, Page 283} Inc., 418 Pa. 214, 210 A.2d 271 (1965): "The grant or refusal of a new trial will not be reversed on appeal, absent an abuse of discretion or error of law which controlled the outcome of the case." See Chambers v. Montgomery, supra.

In Roadman v. Bellone, 379 Pa. 483, 108 A.2d 754 (1954), we said: "We are reluctant to interfere with the deliberate judgment of the jury regarding the amount of a verdict in a personal injury case which is supported by the opinion and approval of the trial judge and confirmed by the court en banc: Huey et vir v. Blue Ridge Transp. Co., 350 Pa. 488, 491, 39 A.2d 602."

A common carrier for hire, although not an insurer, owes to its passengers the highest degree of care. Dayen v. Penn Bus Co., 363 Pa. 176, 69 A.2d 151 (1949), and cases cited therein. In Staller v. Phila. R. T. Co., 339 Pa. 100, 103, 14 A.2d 289 (1940), in reiterating a long and well established rule, we stated: "It is well established by a long line of decisions that testimony indicating that a moving trolley car jerked suddenly or violently is not sufficient, of itself, to establish negligence in its operation. There must be a showing of additional facts and circumstances from which it clearly appears that the movement of the car was so unusual and extraordinary as to be beyond a passenger's reasonable anticipation, and nothing short of evidence that the allegedly unusual movement had an extraordinarily disturbing effect upon other passengers, or evidence of an accident, the manner of the occurrence of which or the effect of ...


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