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UNANGST v. WHITEHOUSE ET AL. (09/22/75)

decided: September 22, 1975.

UNANGST, APPELLANT, ET AL.
v.
WHITEHOUSE ET AL.



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Aug. T., 1972, No. 249, in case of Dennis C. Unangst and Linda Unangst v. Doris Whitehouse and George Whitehouse, defendants, and Dennis C. Unangst, additional defendant.

COUNSEL

John M. Yarema and Martin H. Philip, for appellant.

John D. DiGiacomo, and Teel, Stettz, Shimer & DiGiacomo, for appellees.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.

Author: Jacobs

[ 235 Pa. Super. Page 460]

This case arises out of a collision between an auto and a motorcycle which occurred on June 8, 1972, near the intersection of Hecktown Road and Freedom Drive, Bethlehem Township in Northampton County. Following a

[ 235 Pa. Super. Page 461]

    jury trial a verdict was returned in favor of Plaintiff Linda Unangst against Appellee Doris Whitehouse and Appellant Dennis C. Unangst, the drivers of the vehicles involved. Appellant was denied recovery in his suit against appellee. Motions for a new trial and for judgment n.o.v. were thereafter filed by appellant, based in part on his claim that the trial court erroneously charged on the "assured clear distance ahead" rule. Following denial of his motions and entry of judgment on the verdicts, appellant filed this appeal.

The record reveals the following facts. Just prior to the 11:00 P. M. collision appellant was operating a motorcycle and was proceeding south on Hecktown Road. Appellant's wife, Linda Unangst, was a passenger on his vehicle. Appellee was operating her automobile accompanied by her son, David Whitehouse, in an easterly direction on Freedom Drive.

Hecktown Road is a through road which widens near Freedom Drive to facilitate right-turning traffic proceeding west on Freedom Drive. The predominant feature of Hecktown Road in the vicinity of the collision site is the existence of a hump or knoll in that road located some 150 to 200 feet north of the intersection. This knoll limits vision to the south for drivers approaching Freedom Drive until the crest of the knoll is reached. The rise likewise limits view of Hecktown Road to the north for those seeking to turn from Freedom Drive onto Hecktown Road. Freedom Drive forms a "T" intersection with Hecktown Road and is controlled by a stop sign.

Appellant testified that, while proceeding south and travelling at approximately 25 to 35 miles per hour, he first observed appellee's car located about 15 feet from the stop sign on Freedom Drive; that he first made this observation as he came over the knoll; that appellee was travelling at a rate of speed such that he assumed she would not stop; that he put on his brakes at that point; that he planned to turn to the right to avoid her; but

[ 235 Pa. Super. Page 462]

    that he collided with her shortly thereafter. Appellant maintained that he was on his own side of the road and that appellee was in the process of making a turn north onto Hecktown Road. He further indicated that she seemed to be on his side of the road and that the point of impact was north of the northern edge of Freedom Drive. In essence, he claimed that appellee swung onto Hecktown Road in a tight arc which brought her into his lane, proceeding towards the northbound lane, diagonally.

Patrolman Harold's testimony on behalf of appellant concerned the location of appellant, his motorcycle and Linda Unangst following impact. He placed both of the former in the southbound lane and the latter in the northbound lane. The ...


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