Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1966, No. 733, in case of John Keba v. Joseph Pickett et al.
John R. Gavin, with him Spotts, Gill, Gavin & Morrow, for plaintiff, appellant.
Harry John Zimmer, with him Andrew J. Banyas, and Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, for defendant, appellee.
Harold Gondelman, with him Richard H. Martin, and Baskin, Boreman, Sachs, Gondelman & Craig, for additional defendant, appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.
On February 8, 1964, John Keba was a passenger in an automobile operated by Edward Rumcik, when it collided with an automobile operated by Joseph Pickett. Keba was severely injured and instituted this action to recover damages from Pickett. The latter joined Rumcik as an additional defendant. At the conclusion of the liability testimony, the trial court entered a compulsory non-suit in favor of Rumcik, but ruled that the issue of Pickett's liability was for the jury to determine. A verdict was subsequently returned finding Pickett "not negligent"; the court molded the verdict and directed it to be entered in favor of the defendant. From the judgment entered on the verdict, Keba appeals.
The accident occurred in Allegheny County on the Ohio River Boulevard, a four-lane highway, which has two lanes reserved on each side for traffic traveling in the same direction. There is a divider in the center of the highway. At the time of the accident, it was snowing and the road was "slippery" and "icy." The versions of the occurrence, as given by Pickett on the one hand and Keba and Rumcik on the other, differed dramatically.
Pickett testified that his automobile was traveling in an easterly direction in the outside lane on his side of the highway at a speed of about 20 miles an hour, when it suddenly slid, went out of control and
crossed over the center divider onto the lanes of the opposite side of the highway and came to rest in a diagonal position facing east, with the front end near the guard rail running alongside of the highway; that after his automobile was stopped in this position for a period of 8 to 10 seconds, with its headlights lit, the Rumcik automobile, traveling west, came along and collided with the right rear fender of his automobile. He further stated that after his automobile came to rest, he observed that the Rumcik automobile was still several hundred feet away from the point of collision.
The testimony of Keba and Rumcik was generally consistent. They testified that the road was slippery and that the Rumcik vehicle had considerable difficulty pursuing an upgrade in the highway several hundred yards away from the point of collision; that after it reached the top of the incline and proceeded down the other side, traveling at a speed of about 8 to 10 miles an hour, the Pickett automobile suddenly spun around and swerved from its side of the highway over onto the other side ...