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THOMAS W. FREDERICKS v. CHARLES CASTORA (06/28/76)

decided: June 28, 1976.

THOMAS W. FREDERICKS, APPELLANT AT NO. 1550,
v.
CHARLES CASTORA, JR., ET AL. V. DONALD TERWILLIGER, APPELLANT AT NO. 1455, AND PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION, ADDITIONAL DEFENDANTS



COUNSEL

Terry W. Knox, West Chester, for Donald Terwilliger.

Donald J. Farage, Philadelphia, for Thomas W. Fredericks.

John R. Warner, Norristown, for appellee Tube City Iron and Metal Co.

G. Clinton Fogwell, Jr., West Chester, Charles Jay Bogdanoff, J. Lieberman, Philadelphia, for appellees Melvin R. Whiteacre, J. M. Rudisill and Son, Inc.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 213]

This appeal is brought by the plaintiff and the one defendant found liable in an action arising from a motor vehicle accident involving two trucks and a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission vehicle. We disagree with the appellants' various allegations of trial errors and affirm the lower court.

The appellant-plaintiff, Thomas Fredericks, was a passenger in a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission vehicle driven by appellant-defendant Donald Terwilliger on the morning of January 24, 1968. Just prior to the accident, Terwilliger pulled onto the berm of the four lane turnpike preparatory to making a U-turn through an opening in the divider fence. As the vehicle proceeded to cross the two eastbound lanes, it was struck by a truck driven by appellee-defendant Charles Castora and owned by Tube City Iron and Metal Company which had been following at a distance of about 600 to 800 feet. Another truck, driven by appellee-defendant Whiteacre in the scope of his employment with J. M. Rudisill and Son, Inc., in an attempt to pass the wreckage, jack-knifed. It is disputed whether or not the second truck struck any of the other vehicles. Fredericks was seriously injured. Thomas Fredericks brought suit against the two truck drivers, Castora and Whiteacre and their two respective employers, Tube City Iron and Metal Company and J. M. Rudisill and Son, Inc. Subsequently, Donald Terwilliger

[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 214]

    and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission were joined as additional defendants. Following a jury trial a verdict was rendered in favor of the plaintiff Fredericks against the additional defendant Donald Terwilliger, and in favor of Charles Castora, Tube City Iron and Metal Company, Melvin Whiteacre and J. M. Rudisill and Son, Inc.

Appellants' first argument is that the defendants Castora and Whiteacre should be held to a higher standard of care than is usually applied to the operator of a motor vehicle in evaluating both their negligence and the defense of sudden emergency as charged by the trial judge. In support of this position, reference is made to the evidence that both defendants were professionals who drove trucks for a living and had done so for over 20 years. Appellants cite no cases to buttress this novel contention but instead review various sections and comments from the Restatement (Second) of Torts (1965).*fn1 Whereas the sections cited might be appropriately considered in a situation where the defendant had received specialized training, or was required to demonstrate a high standard of skill and knowledge, as in the case of a medical doctor, see Incollingo v. Ewing, 444 Pa. 263, 282 A.2d 206 (1971), [citing Restatement (Second) Torts, § 290, comment f, and § 299, comment f (1965)] our research discloses no case where the operator of a motor vehicle was held to a higher standard of care due to the length or nature of his experience.*fn2 Thus in Adley Express Co. v. Willard, 372 Pa. 252, 93 A.2d 676 (1953), a case in which the facts closely parallel those in the case at hand, the Supreme Court held the truck driver only

[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 215]

    to the standard required of all motorists. In that case the driver was operating the plaintiff's tractor trailer truck on a four lane highway when, immediately subsequent to crossing a bridge, he collided with the defendant's truck which was in the process of making a U-turn across a median strip. The trial court charged that under the circumstances the plaintiff's truck driver should have been operating his vehicle with a greater degree of care than is ordinarily required of motorists. The Supreme Court held that this was error, stating: "Thus again a higher duty of care than was justified was imposed upon the driver of plaintiff's truck. Under all the testimony the latter was chargeable only with the failure to exercise the ordinary care required of all motorists." Adley Express Co. v. Willard, supra at 257, 93 A.2d at 678.

In the present case the trial court in its charge defined negligence as the want of due care under the circumstances and the failure to act as a reasonable, prudent person under the circumstances. A requirement that experienced truck drivers be subject to a higher standard of care does not impress us as being a useful concept to infuse into the law of vehicle negligence. An understanding of the ordinary standard of due care applicable to the average motorist under the multitude of changing circumstances likely to confront today's driver is already difficult to grasp and apply justly. To begin to vary the standard according to the driver's experience would render the application of any reasonably uniform standard impossible. Other jurisdictions have confronted the problem of varying degrees of care and sought to control the ceaseless variation of the concept of negligence by establishing a single standard: "Care ...


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