Appeals from judgments of Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1962, No. 3576, and June T., 1962, No. 3232, in cases of Vuwell Bowie et al. v. Alford Shelton et al.; and Alford Shelton et ux. v. Raymond Bowie et al.
Marvin D. Weintraub, with him Gustine J. Pelagatti, Bernard M. Gross, Sheldon Seligsohn, and Gross & Sklar, for plaintiffs.
Charles J. Bogdanoff, with him Albert C. Gekoski, for defendant.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.
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These cases resulted from a collision between two automobiles at the intersection of Clearfield and Broad
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Streets in the City of Philadelphia on August 13, 1961. Raymond Bowie was the driver of one automobile and Alford Shelton was the driver of the other automobile. Bowie brought suit against Shelton for damage to his automobile and his personal injuries. The passengers in Bowie's automobile, Vuwell Bowie, Julia Slater, Leola Frazier and Carrie Salley, joined in the suit for their personal injuries. Bowie also sought to recover his expenses and loss of consortium caused by the injuries to his wife, Vuwell Bowie. Jefferson Salley, husband of Carrie Salley, joined for a similar purpose. Raymond Bowie was joined as an additional defendant in this suit. In the second suit Shelton sued Bowie for the damage to his automobile; his wife, Sophia Shelton, who had been a passenger in his automobile, sued to recover for her personal injuries. In the latter suit Alford Shelton was joined as an additional defendant. The suits were consolidated for trial and heard before Judge McClanaghan and a jury in September, 1967.
The jury found Bowie and Shelton both negligent and permitted neither to recover from the other. Verdicts were rendered for all passengers against both Bowie and Shelton. All the passengers except Sophia Shelton claimed that their verdicts were inadequate and have appealed the action of the lower court in refusing their motions for new trials on that ground. In the case of Jefferson Salley as plaintiff, the jury brought in no verdict and the court marked the case as withdrawn although counsel requested that the case be resubmitted to the jury for a verdict. Later, in its opinion, the court below indicated that it felt it had directed that a verdict be entered in favor of the defendants in that case. Jefferson Salley died before trial and his administratrix has appealed the court's action. Raymond Bowie appeals in both cases on the ground that the court below should have granted a new
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trial because of an after-discovered witness on the issue of liability.
The grant or refusal of a new trial for inadequacy of the verdict is a matter for the discretion of the trial court and we should not interfere unless the court below clearly abused its discretion. Takac v. Bamford, 370 Pa. 389, 88 A.2d 86 (1952); Padula v. Godschalk, 192 Pa. Superior Ct. 618, 161 A.2d 919 (1960). Vuwell Bowie recovered $600. She was treated at the hospital and returned home the day of the accident. Her total medical bills, for which her husband would be liable, were $84. She was confined to her home for two weeks, but claimed she could not reopen her beauty shop for two and one-half months. In our opinion her verdict bore a reasonable relation to the damages proved. The same is true of the verdicts awarded the other passenger appellants. All were discharged from the hospital on the day of the accident. Although Julia Slater incurred medical expenses of $123 and the jury gave her only $125, her injuries were not extensive and she was unemployed at the time of the accident. Leola Frazier received $350. Her medical expenses were $50 and she missed employment for three weeks. Carrie Salley received $200. She was a housewife and her sole claim was for pain and suffering. She suffered a broken rib and some bruises. Her claim for damages was complicated by a pre-existing hypertensive heart condition, and the jury had the difficult task of determining to what extent her condition was affected ...