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OSTROWSKI v. CRAWFORD DOOR SALES CO. ET AL. (03/24/66)

decided: March 24, 1966.

OSTROWSKI
v.
CRAWFORD DOOR SALES CO. ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeals from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Sept. T., 1963, No. 2075, in case of Andrew Ostrowski v. Crawford Door Sales Co. of Scranton, doing business as Crawford Overhead Door Corp., et al.

COUNSEL

Irving L. Epstein, for company, appellant.

Harry P. O'Neill, Jr., with him Walsh and O'Neill, for appellant.

William T. Malone, for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Jacobs, J. Dissenting Opinion by Montgomery, J.

Author: Jacobs

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 426]

On January 29, 1963, the plaintiff, an employee of the Scranton Casket Company, was injured by a descending overhead door on his employer's premises. He brought an action in trespass against Crawford Door Sales Company of Scranton (Crawford), alleging that Crawford was negligent in installing the door and that as a result of this negligence, the door collapsed, causing plaintiff's injuries. Crawford joined Edward J. Libertoski as an additional defendant, alleging that Libertoski was an independent contractor who installed the door furnished by Crawford and that Libertoski was responsible for any injuries. Libertoski joined Scranton Casket Company (Casket), alleging that his

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 427]

    work was satisfactory to Casket, was accepted by Casket, and that the premises were in the exclusive possession of Casket at the time of the accident so that any responsibility for a dangerous condition was Casket's.

The case was tried in September, 1964, before President Judge Hoban and a jury. The jury made special findings of negligence and causation as to each one of the defendants and found all three jointly and severally liable, awarding a verdict of $10,000. Crawford and Libertoski filed motions for judgment n.o.v., which were denied by the lower court. They appeal from the judgment entered on the verdict.

The following facts were established at trial: Crawford had a contract with Casket to provide an overhead door completely installed at the entrance to Casket's new factory extension. Crawford supplied the door in sections and the necessary hardware. Libertoski and his workmen picked up this material and installed the door for a fee to be paid by Crawford, as had been their usual business practice for about seventeen years. Libertoski paid his own workmen.

The door in question was a verticle lift, five-section, overhead door, ten feet wide and nine feet high which had been installed about one week before the accident. It weighed between 200 and 230 pounds and was used for ingress and egress by trucks and employees. Unlike the usual garage door which lifts to a certain extent and then folds back so that a section becomes parallel with the ceiling, this door went straight up alongside the upper wall of the factory structure. Operating on guide rails or tracks on either side of the doorway, the door was held by cables attached to the lower section of the door which led to tension springs affixed to the structure. The door was supposed to move easily in either direction when comparatively slight pressure was applied. When the door was installed, the floor of the company's factory addition had

[ 207 Pa. Super. Page 428]

    not been completed. To allow for the proposed concrete floor, a door stop had to be provided about eight inches above the ground level. Cleats, wooden two by fours or sixes, six inches in height, were nailed to the door frame and a section of angle iron (1 1/4 " x 1 1/4 " x 1/8 ") was bolted through the guide rails to the door frame to provide a stop for the descending door at the eight-inch mark.

In addition to the unfinished floor in the building, the overhead construction was also incomplete when the door was installed so that snow or water found its way into the factory addition where the roof of the addition adjoined its wall. The water descended the side of the wall above the door frame and onto the door. Since there was no heat at the time in the addition and temperatures were very ...


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