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FLICK v. JAMES MONFREDO

April 3, 1973

Kenneth W. FLICK
v.
JAMES MONFREDO, INC. and Horace J. Conover


Gorbey, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GORBEY

Before this court are the defendant's motions for judgment N.O.V. and a new trial which were made following a bifurcated trial in which the jury found liability on the part of the defendant and awarded damages of $119,000.00 to the plaintiff. This action arose out of a collision between a motorcycle operated by the plaintiff and a tractor trailer truck owned by James Monfredo and operated by Horace J. Conover.

 Since the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, we must give the plaintiff the benefit of the most favorable view of the facts and all inferences therefrom. With this in mind, the jury could have reasonably found the following: On August 26, 1969, at about noon, the weather was clear and the roads were dry. The plaintiff was operating his motorcycle in a westerly direction on Quarry Road, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the direction in which he was proceeding, the road curved to the right and sloped down-hill. On this section of Quarry Road there is no posted speed limit and the plaintiff was traveling at 30 miles per hour.

 The plaintiff was unaware of the existence of the dirt driveway onto Quarry Road. The first time that the plaintiff saw or could see the truck when he came around the curve was about 100 feet from the private driveway. At that time the front end of the tractor was at about the edge of the road. The truck then proceeded into the highway. The plaintiff had applied his brakes which caused the motorcycle to skid, overturn and strike the truck.

 The question of liability was submitted to the jury on a special verdict form and the jury found:

 
1) the defendants were negligent;
 
2) the negligence of the defendants was the proximate cause of the accident; and
 
3) the plaintiff was not contributorily negligent.

 The defendant alleges several errors which he feels entitle him to a directed verdict or a new trial on the issue of liability.

 First, the defendant contends that there could be no finding of liability on the part of a driver who enters a highway from a driveway where his vision is blocked if he enters slowly and continues to maintain a vigil. A similar argument was rejected in Brown et al. v. Jones, 138 Pa. Super. 350, 10 A. 2d 839 (1940). In that case the defendant stopped one foot from the edge of a through highway which was as close as he could go without exposing himself to danger. He looked and saw no traffic since his view was limited by trees and a two story dwelling at that intersection. He proceeded slowly into the intersection and was struck by a car which he could not see until he had entered the intersection. In that case the court stated:

 
"We are not aware of any case that has gone so far as to declare that a driver who enters a through highway, under circumstances similar to those before us, and collides with a car driven thereon, is free of negligence as a matter of law."

 Later quoting from Dixon v. Pentony, 116 Pa. Super. 443, 176 A. 782 (1935), the court stated, "Looking when his vision was obstructed was unavailing, and did not fulfill his legal duty." The court in Brown further quoted that "the courts hold one driving onto a through highway at a 'T' intersection to strict accountability." Accordingly, we cannot say it was error to submit the question of the defendant's negligence to the jury.

 The defendant further alleges that the court erred in its instructions to the jury concerning the defendant's negligence. Specifically, they ...


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