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MCMAHON v. YOUNG (04/22/71)

decided: April 22, 1971.

MCMAHON
v.
YOUNG, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Nov. T., 1966, No. 726, in case of Edward McMahon and Helen McMahon, his wife, v. Mary E. Young.

COUNSEL

John C. Youngman, Sr., with him Candor, Youngman, Gibson & Gault, for appellant.

Patrick H. Fierro, with him Fierro & Miele, for appellees.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 442 Pa. Page 485]

On December 28, 1964, while proceeding south on U. S. Route 15 near Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Helen McMahon stopped to make a left turn into a supermarket. Mary Young, appellant, also in the southbound passing lane, did not notice soon enough that the McMahon car had stopped and collided with it. Mrs. McMahon and her husband brought suit to recover damages resulting from physical injuries to Mrs. McMahon and won a $20,000 verdict from the jury. After denial of motions for a new trial and entry of judgment on the verdict, Mary Young appealed.

This case is another in the series of Pennsylvania cases which feature the conflict between medical vocabulary and the rules of evidence. Mrs. McMahon's physician testified that Mrs. McMahon suffered from an arthritic condition caused by a narrowing of the space between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebra. On the question of whether this condition was caused by the accident, the doctor used the following language at different times in his testimony:

(1) "[the automobile accident] is consistent with that sort of injury,"

(2) "there is probably a cause and effect relationship,"

(3) "my opinion is there is an arthritis which is consistent with traumatic arthritis."

Appellant contends that expert testimony of this nature is inadmissible to prove causation. We agree. As we said in Menarde v. Philadelphia Trans. Co., 376 Pa. 497,

[ 442 Pa. Page 486103]

A.2d 681 (1954), summarizing the case law on the subject: ". . . [T]he expert has to testify, not that the condition of claimant might have, or even probably did, come from the accident, but that in his professional opinion the result in question came from the cause alleged. A less direct expression of opinion falls below the required ...


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