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CERINO v. PHILADELPHIA (10/09/69)

decided: October 9, 1969.

CERINO, APPELLANT,
v.
PHILADELPHIA



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1962, No. 127, in case of James Cerino, administrator of estate of Susan Cerino, deceased, and James Cerino, individually, v. City of Philadelphia.

COUNSEL

Esther R. Sylvester, with her Beasley, Albert, Hewson & Casey, for appellant.

Nicholas M. D'Alessandro, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Second Deputy City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief justice Bell. Mr. Justice Pomeroy concurs in the result. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Bell

[ 435 Pa. Page 357]

This is an appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas entered for defendant non obstante veredicto and after denial of the plaintiff's motion for a new trial.

In Firestone v. Schmehl, 420 Pa. 644, 218 A.2d 324, the Court said (page 646): "It is hornbook law that in considering a motion for judgment n.o.v. the evidence must be considered in the light most favorable to the verdict winner and he must be given the benefit of every reasonable inference of fact arising therefrom and any conflicts in the evidence must be resolved in his favor: Wood v. Conneaut Lake Park, Inc., 417 Pa. 58, 209 A.2d 268; Bohner v. Eastern Express, Inc., 405 Pa. 463, 175 A.2d 864." However, he is not entitled to inferences which amount merely to a guess or conjecture: Wood v. Conneaut Lake Park, Inc., 417 Pa., supra.

Viewed in that light, the facts of this case are as follows:

[ 435 Pa. Page 358]

On Friday afternoon, July 22, 1960, at approximately 5:30 P.M., Mrs. Susan Cerino (plaintiff's decedent) was returning home on foot from marketing. It was a bright, sunny day. Mrs. Cerino, a short, heavy woman, was carrying a large package as she approached the intersection of 22nd Street and Indiana Avenue. The area in which Mrs. Cerino was walking was a shopping district; cars were parked on both sides of 22nd Street. When she reached the intersection of 22nd Street and Indiana Avenue, she paused on the corner waiting for the traffic light to change. In the crosswalk in front of Mrs. Cerino, about two feet from the curb, was a large excavation, six feet long, four feet wide, and three inches deep. Within the area of the excavation was a manhole, the cover of which was about three inches above the bottom of the excavation. After the traffic light turned green, Mrs. Cerino looked to the left and to the right, then stepped off the curb into the excavation, tripped, and fell onto the manhole cover. As a result of this fall, Mrs. Cerino sustained serious injuries.*fn*

Mrs. Cerino sued the City for negligence in allowing the obstruction to remain after repeated requests for its repair. The jury found a verdict for plaintiff Susan Cerino in the amount of $6,992, and $3,624 for her husband, James Cerino. Defendant filed a motion for judgment n.o.v.; plaintiff filed a motion to strike defendant's motion for judgment n.o.v. and also a motion for a new trial. Plaintiff's motion for a new trial was based upon (a) the lower Court's refusal to admit into evidence Susan Cerino's answers to defendant's interrogatories, and (b) the lower Court's failure to charge on certain points presented by plaintiff, and (c) the inadequacy of the verdict.

[ 435 Pa. Page 359]

The lower Court denied plaintiff's motion to strike and her motion for a new trial, and granted defendant's motion for judgment n.o.v. on the ground that plaintiff was contributorily negligent as a matter of ...


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