Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ALBRIGHT v. R. J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO CO.

October 23, 1972

Mary ALBRIGHT, Administratrix of the Estate of Charles Albright, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
R. J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY, a corporation, Defendant


Weber, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

I

 Defendant has moved for Summary Judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff has secured prior satisfaction for the same injury claimed here.

 On July 5, 1962, Plaintiff's decedent brought suit against the City of Pittsburgh for injuries received when his automobile struck a street excavation. The complaint alleged contusions and blows to the chest, contusions to the abdomen, shock, sprain of the left wrist, traumatic neurosis, pain, suffering and medical expenses. On August 6, 1962 the Defendant served interrogatories to determine the extent of the injuries and damages claimed. These answers were not filed until July 10, 1964. It is necessary for the purpose of this motion that we set forth certain of those Interrogatories and their Answers in full.

 
"Interrogatory Number 15. "State the exact name and address of each hospital or institution at which you received treatment on account of the injuries complained of in your complaint; and with respect to each, state:
 
(a) the nature of the treatment received,
 
(b) the date or dates on or between which you were confined, . . ."
 
Answer: "Plaintiff was treated for cancer which may have been caused or exacerbated by the said accident at Montefiore Hospital.
 
15(a). Plaintiff had the upper lobe of his lung removed, and attendant treatment performed at Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania.
 
Interrogatory Number 17. "What are the amounts of the bills of each of those persons listed in answer to Interrogatory 13 for the services they rendered in connection with the injuries mentioned?"
 
Answer: "Montefiore Hospital -- $1,429.50 to date . . .".
 
Interrogatory Number 23. "State whether or not any of the alleged injuries resulted in any scars, abrasions, contusions or lacerations to your body. If so, describe and specify the parts of your body."
 
Answer: "Plaintiff suffered contusions and blows of the chest, contusions of the abdomen, and severe shock, sprain of the left wrist and possible traumatic neurosis and possible internal injuries including possible exacerbation or causation of a cancerous growth in the lungs."
 
Interrogatory Number 24: "State specifically the nature and duration of the pain, suffering and inconvenience which you allegedly underwent and which you will continue to undergo as stated in your complaint in trespass."
 
Answer: "Plaintiff suffers a continuous pain in the chest which continues to prevail to the present time. . . .".
 
Interrogatory Number 26: "State the degree of any disability to any part or parts of your body which you claim resulted from the alleged accident. State whether such disability is claimed to be temporary or permanent in each case."
 
Answer: "Loss of part of the lungs, inability to sleep well and shortness of breath may be permanent results of the accident."
 
Interrogatory Number 33. "Subsequent to the accident alleged in the complaint, were you disabled partially or totally from any other cause? . . .".
 
Answer "Plaintiff believes not."

 The plaintiff in the above-cited action died on November 13, 1965, and his widow, the plaintiff in the present action, was substituted as plaintiff in his stead.

 After Pretrial Conferences looking toward conciliation in the Common Pleas Court, the above action was settled and plaintiff's counsel (the same counsel as represents the plaintiff in the within action) marked the docket "Settled and Discontinued" on December 22, 1967. The consideration of $850 was paid the plaintiff for the settlement.

 During his lifetime, and while the above-cited Common Pleas action was pending, Charles Albright commenced the present action against the defendant R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company alleging that the cancer of the lung which he developed was caused by smoking Camel cigarettes made by the defendant. Charles Albright died after this suit was filed and his administratrix was substituted as plaintiff.

 The defendant has moved for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the prior action against the City of Pittsburgh and the settlement thereof bars this action.

 This is a diversity suit and the court must apply Pennsylvania law. Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S. Ct. 817, 82 L. Ed. 1188 [1938].

 While plaintiff's complaint against the City of Pittsburgh only alleged "contusions and blows to the chest", when the defendant sought the particulars of the claim the plaintiff supplied many of the same elements of damages that are now being asserted in the present suit. It is apparent that the City of Pittsburgh was being informed that it faced a possible claim that among the consequences of plaintiff's injuries was the development of a cancer of the lung. It is noted that in answer to Interrogatory Number 17 plaintiff claimed medical bills of $1,429.50 due the Montefiore Hospital where he underwent surgery for the lung cancer, and the same bill is being presented by plaintiff in the present action against R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

 A claim for cancer resulting from a single traumatic impact has been sustained in the Pennsylvania courts. Menarde v. Phila. Transp. Co., 376 Pa. 497, 103 A.2d 681 [1954]. The complaint in the case against the City of Pittsburgh was broad enough to include a claim for cancer arising from the alleged "contusions and blows to the chest". Matthews v. Spiegel, 385 Pa. 203, 122 A.2d 696 [1956] Nark v. Horton Motor Lines, Inc., 331 Pa. 550, 1 A.2d 655 [1938].

 The controlling principle of law advanced by the defendant is that stated in Sections 885(1) and 886 of the Restatement, Torts:

 
§ 885.
 
"(1) A valid release of one tortfeasor from liability for a harm, given by the injured person, discharges all others liable for the same harm, unless the parties to the release agree that the release shall not discharge the others and, if the release is embodied in a document, unless such agreement appears in the document."
 
* * *
 
§ 886.
 
"The discharge or satisfaction of a judgment against one of several persons each of whom is liable for a single harm discharges each of the others from liability therefor."

 While the Restatement speaks in terms of release or satisfaction of judgment, the Pennsylvania cases treat the marking of the docket "settled and discontinued" as having the same effect. Sustrik v. Jones & Laughlin ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.