Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, March T., 1967, No. 2278, in case of Joseph Spinelli v. Earl Maxwell and Sam Schlessinger.
Leon Rosenfield, with him Herbert Monheit, for appellant.
George P. Williams, III, with him William T. Hangley, Harvey Levin, and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Musmanno dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Justice O'Brien joins in this dissenting opinion.
This appeal presents a narrow question: does a judgment entered in a trespass action brought in the name of the plaintiff, for both his benefit and that of his subrogated insurance carrier, to recover property damages resulting from an automobile accident, bar a later trespass action between the same parties for personal injuries suffered by the plaintiff in the same accident?
On May 12, 1966, an automobile, owned by Samuel Schlessinger and operated by Earl Maxwell, collided with another automobile, owned and operated by Joseph Spinelli, and, as a result, allegedly, Spinelli suffered not only damage to his automobile but also injuries to his person.
The damage to Spinelli's automobile amount to $1300; of that amount Spinelli's insurance carrier, Calvert Fire Insurance Company, paid Spinelli $1200, the difference between the $1300 damage and the $100 deductible provision in the insurance policy. Upon receipt of payment, Spinelli executed a subrogation receipt and signed the following request: "The undersigned, having suffered a property loss of $100.00 in excess of the $1200.00 named in the foregoing subrogation receipt, does hereby request the said insurance company to employ counsel for and on his behalf, to effect recovery thereof, only, however, in the event that said insurance company employs counsel on its own behalf. It being herein agreed, that, in event of recovery the net proceeds thereof (after payment of costs and Attorneys' fees) shall be apportioned between the undersigned and the said insurance company as the interest of each herein appears."
On October 6, 1966, a trespass action was instituted in the name of Spinelli against Schlessinger and Maxwell in the County Court of Philadelphia County and in that action Spinelli asserted a claim against Schlessinger and Maxwell only for the $1300 damage to his automobile. Approximately seven months later, an arbitration panel made an award in favor of Spinelli and against Schlessinger and Maxwell in the amount of $1300 and, upon payment of this award, a judgment was entered of record on May 31, 1967 in favor of Spinelli and against Schlessinger and Maxwell and then marked satisfied.
On April 4, 1967, Spinelli instituted the instant trespass action against Schlessinger and Maxwell in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County wherein Spinelli claimed damages only for his personal injuries. In answer to Spinelli's complaint, Schlessinger and Maxwell, under new matter, recited the record facts of the prior trespass action and then moved for judgment on the pleadings. Judge Bernard J. Kelley of the court below entered a judgment for Schlessinger and Maxwell. From that judgment the present appeal was taken.
When personal injuries to a person and damages to his property arise from the same cause and the same tortious act, the person who has sustained such personal injuries and property damage must seek recovery for both in a single action and, if separate actions are instituted for each category of damage and a judgment is rendered in one of such actions, the entry of such judgment has the effect of res judicata and bars recovery in the other action. Such is ...