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KRALIK v. CROMWELL (11/11/69)

decided: November 11, 1969.

KRALIK
v.
CROMWELL, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, July T., 1966, No. 574, in case of Edward B. Kralik v. William L. Cromwell, Jr.

COUNSEL

R. C. Wayman, with him Bernard J. McAuley, and Wayman, Irvin, Trushel & McAuley, for appellant.

Leonard A. Redlich, with him Robert Y. Cassol, and Redlich, Cassol, Redlich & Morocco, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.

Author: Eagen

[ 435 Pa. Page 614]

In this trespass action arising out of an automobile collision, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant.

[ 435 Pa. Page 615]

The court en banc below granted a new trial merely stating in its order "that the interests of justice require" it.*fn1

The grant of a new trial lies within the inherent power of a trial court, and on appeal we will not interfere with the exercise thereof, unless there has been a clear abuse of discretion or an error of law which necessarily controlled the grant of the new trial. Getz v. Balliet, 431 Pa. 441, 246 A.2d 108 (1968). Moreover, as we stated in Clewell v. Pummer, 388 Pa. 592, 598, 131 A.2d 375, 378 (1957), and recently reaffirmed in Getz v. Balliet, supra, "Where a trial Judge or Court sees and hears the witnesses, it has not only an inherent fundamental and salutary power, but it is its duty, to grant a new trial when it believes the verdict was capricious or was against the weight of the evidence and resulted in a miscarriage of justice." However, it is error for the trial court to grant a new trial merely because it believes the jury should have returned a different verdict. Eisert v. Jones, 408 Pa. 73, 182 A.2d 717 (1962). Also, a trial court should give its reasons for the grant of a new trial, and its statement of the mere conclusion that the interests of justice require it is not sufficient to sustain such an order. Beal v. Reading Company, 370 Pa. 45, 87 A.2d 214 (1952), and Bellettiere v. Philadelphia, 367 Pa. 638, 81 A.2d 857 (1951).

Since the learned court below failed to state sufficient reason for granting the new trial in the instant case, we are obliged to examine the entire record to determine whether any valid reason exists for disturbing the jury's verdict. Beal v. Reading Company, supra. We conclude that there is valid reason.

[ 435 Pa. Page 616]

The pertinent trial evidence may be summarized as follows:

The plaintiff testified that he caused the automobile he was driving to come to a complete stop at an intersection because the traffic control light was red against traffic on the street upon which he was proceeding; that, while the temperature was below zero, the roadway was dry and free of ice; that, after he had been stopped for a "few seconds," an automobile, operated by the defendant, suddenly and without warning ran into the rear of his automobile with such force as to ...


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