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HOLLERN v. VERHOVSEK (12/13/71)

decided: December 13, 1971.

HOLLERN, APPELLANT,
v.
VERHOVSEK



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Sept. T., 1968, No. 572, in case of William P. Hollern v. Robert J. Verhovsek, and Gerald L. Mumaw, D. R. Lichtenfels, B & G Sales Corp. and Pittsburgh Aluminum Alloys Corporation.

COUNSEL

Randall C. Rodkey, with him Caram J. Abood, and Green, Gibson & Abood, for appellant.

Edward G. Kuyat, Jr., with him Robert G. Rose, Ayres, Hager, Kuyat & Walker, and Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for appellees.

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

Author: Cercone

[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 344]

This case arises out of an automobile accident which occurred on the evening of September 5, 1967 at about 11:00 p.m. on Pennsylvania Route 56, Somerset County, near the entrance to Babcock State Park. The injured plaintiff, William P. Hollern, was driving on Route 56 in a westerly direction toward Windber, Pennsylvania. Route 56 is a two-lane, east-west highway. The original defendant, Robert J. Verhovsek, was traveling west on Route 56 in his automobile and was followed by additional defendant, Gerald L. Mumaw, who operated a tractor-trailer rig, owned by additional defendant D. R. Lichtenfels, leased to additional defendant B. & G. Sales Corporation, a branch of additional defendant Pittsburgh Aluminum Alloys Corporation. As defendant Verhovsek was beginning to turn into the entrance of the Babcock State Park which would have been on his left, a collision occurred between his automobile and the tractor-trailer of the additional defendants. After the collision, the tractor-trailer traveled a distance of at least 100 feet beyond the entrance to the state park where it turned over on its side, thereby blocking the entire highway and both berms with the wheels turned to the direction from which plaintiff approached in his automobile.

Plaintiff's vehicle collided with the capsized tractor-trailer and plaintiff sustained personal injuries as well as damage to his automobile.

[ 220 Pa. Super. Page 345]

Plaintiff then brought this action in trespass against the defendant and the additional defendants seeking damages for injuries thus sustained. The matter was called for trial.

Judith L. Hoy, a passenger in the Verhovsek automobile, who was called as plaintiff's witness, testified that a period of three to four minutes elapsed after the first accident until she saw plaintiff's automobile approaching. No flares or lights had been placed as a warning during this period because the driver of the tractor-trailer could not reach them because they were located on the side of the rig which came to rest upon the highway. At this time the scene of the accident was obscured by a dark cloud of dust and/or smoke. The dust cloud obscured the highway approximately from the park entrance to or past the rig, which lay across the road, 100 feet west of the park entrance, according to the testimony of additional defendant Mumaw. Mrs. Hoy further testified that plaintiff's car was traveling at approximately 50 miles per hour when it passed the point at which she was standing near the entrance to the Babcock State Park.

Plaintiff's testimony at trial was that he saw what he first perceived as a blackish cloud when his headlight beams focused thereon; that the dust cloud appeared different from the fog banks he had encountered on Ashtrola Road, where he had been traveling before entering Route 56; that he was traveling at approximately 50 miles per hour; that Route 56 was a straight stretch of road between two-tenths and three-tenths of a mile in length before approaching the scene where the accident occurred; that his vision was as far as his headlights would carry and he said that this would be approximately 200 to 250 feet on low beam and a slightly longer distance on high beam.

After plaintiff presented his case, the trial court sustained defendant's motion ...


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