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DOYTEK v. BOBTOWN ROD AND GUN CLUB (06/11/70)

decided: June 11, 1970.

DOYTEK
v.
BOBTOWN ROD AND GUN CLUB, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Greene County, Sept. T., 1966, No. 251, in case of John P. Doytek v. Bobtown Rod and Gun Club et al.

COUNSEL

John I. Hook, Jr., for appellant.

R. Thompson, with him John E. Baily, and Thompson and Baily, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Wright, P. J.

Author: Wright

[ 216 Pa. Super. Page 370]

John P. Doytek filed a complaint in trespass against the Bobtown Rod and Gun Club, a nonprofit corporation, and against Edward Srbinovich, a member of the club, to recover damages for injuries sustained by the plaintiff on February 20, 1966, while inside the club premises. At the initial trial the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff against the defendant club in the amount of $4,500.00, and against the individual defendant in the amount of $1,000.00. According to the court below, "a new trial was unanimously agreed upon because of the improper verdict split used by the jury". The second trial resulted in a verdict for the individual defendant, and in favor of the plaintiff against the club for medical expenses only in amount of $853.22. The club defendant filed a motion for a judgment n.o.v., and the plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial. The court below refused the club's motion for judgment n.o.v., and granted the plaintiff a new trial against the club defendant limited to the amount of damages. The club has appealed.*fn1 The factual situation and judicial rationale appear in the following excerpt from the opinion below:

"The facts, similarly elicited at each of the two trials the case has now had, are that John P. Doytek went to the Club on that day, in the afternoon, with a club member. While there, he and three others were playing cards, all of them consuming liquor and beer in the process. At about 7:30 p.m., on that day, a renege

[ 216 Pa. Super. Page 371]

    was called in the card game, and tempers flared, prompting the defendant, Srbinovich, to grab Doytek by the front of his shirt, pull him up from his seat, and as he did so, Doytek fell to the floor from his seat, with his left leg broken in two (2) places. The leg did not heal quickly and the plaintiff did not work for over a year, and even at the time of the second trial nearly two (2) years later, was somewhat crippled and partially disabled . . .

"It is a strange conclusion the jury reached in each instance and while we fully understand that post-trial motions are not intended to serve as a springboard for post-mortems of a jury verdict; nevertheless some attempt to understand its significance can be reasonably utilized to the best ends of justice. With respect to the defendant, Srbinovich, we charged that he could be liable both for the direct trespass, if the defendant's injury was found to be the proximate result of his act, as well as from negligence, if found to exist, on the same condition.

"On the other hand, the Club we charged could be liable only for negligence (1) in not properly policing the place; (2) in permitting beer cans and debris to litter the floor, and (3) in selling to an intoxicated member but only, in any event that if the negligence were found to exist, and if it was further found to be the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries . . .

"As to the defendant Club, the verdict rendering it liable, we believe should likewise stand, for it too, is a reasonable and understandable result insofar as the facts and the law are concerned. The jury found, we must conclude, that the Club was negligent, either in the accumulation of beer bottles and debris on the floor around the plaintiff's chair, or in the failure to exercise a proper policing ...


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