Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1961, No. 1482, in case of Richard J. Taylor and Pauline Yawaski v. Churchill Valley Country Club and Jack Damico.
Patrick M. O'Donnell, with him Parker, Evashwick & Brieger, for appellants.
William C. Walker, with him Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Eagen join in this concurring opinion. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno.
Plaintiffs instituted an action of trespass, seeking to recover damages sustained when Richard L. Taylor, the minor plaintiff herein, was struck and injured by a golf ball.
On July 5, 1959, Richard L. Taylor was engaged as a caddy at Churchill Valley Country Club (hereinafter called "defendant"). In order to observe golf balls driven (or hit on a second shot) on the 17th hole, it was the customary practice for one caddy in each golf group to go ahead of the golfers and to take a position on a narrow footbridge separating the 15th and 17th holes. While sitting on this footbridge the minor plaintiff was struck by a golf ball hit by Jack Damico,*fn* who was one of a foursome, for two of whom plaintiff was caddying. Plaintiff sustained severe personal injuries. At the time of this incident, Taylor was twenty years old.
The case was tried before a Judge and Jury. At the conclusion of the trial, the Judge granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Plaintiffs have appealed from the judgment which was entered on that verdict.
In support of their reasons for the grant of a new trial, plaintiffs contend that several errors were committed by the trial Court. However, we need not consider
these alleged trial errors because the lower Court correctly directed a verdict in favor of defendant, regardless of the ground or grounds upon which it placed its decision. If a lower Court makes a correct ruling, order, decision, or judgment or decree, but assigns an erroneous reason for its action, an appellate Court will affirm the lower Court's action, order or ruling or decision or judgment or decree, and assign the proper reason therefor. Sherwood v. Elgart, 383 Pa. 110, 117 A.2d 899. In that case the Court said (page 115): ". . . The rule here applicable is that a correct decision will be sustained if it can be sustained for any reason whatsoever; in other words we will not reverse in such a case even though the reason given by the Court below to sustain its decision was erroneous: Derry Council, No. 40 v. State Council, 197 Pa. 413, 420; Com. to use v. Wing, 253 Pa. 226, 230; Corgan v. Geo. F. Lee Coal Co., 218 Pa. 386, 392; Brew v. Hastings, 206 Pa. 155, 162; 2 R.C.L. 189; State H. for C.I. v. Consolidated W.S. Co., 267 Pa. 29, 39."
The principles set forth in Wood v. Conneaut Lake Park, Inc., 417 Pa. 58, 209 A.2d 268, are controlling. In the Conneaut Lake Park case, the Court pertinently said (pages 61-62): "It is well settled (1) that defendant is not an insurer: Cooper v. Pittsburgh, 390 Pa. 534, 136 A.2d 463, and cases cited therein; Haugh v. Harris Bros. Amusement Co., 315 Pa. 90, 172 A. 145; Schentzel v. Philadelphia National League Club, 173 Pa. Superior Ct. 179, 96 A.2d 181, and (2) that plaintiff must prove by a fair preponderance of the evidence (a) that defendant was negligent, and (b) that its negligence ...