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DOROTHY CALHOUN v. JERSEY SHORE HOSPITAL (10/06/77)

decided: October 6, 1977.

DOROTHY CALHOUN
v.
JERSEY SHORE HOSPITAL, APPELLANT



No. 2166 October Term 1976, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Pa., Civil Action-Law Div. at No. 75-0564.

COUNSEL

John M. Humphrey, Williamsport, with him Candor, Youngman, Gibson & Gault, Williamsport, for appellant.

Lester L. Greevy, Jr., Williamsport, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Price, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Spaeth

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 569]

Dorothy Calhoun filed an action in trespass against Jersey Shore Hospital alleging that as a result of the hospital's negligence she had fallen in the hospital and suffered injuries to her back and right leg. The case was tried before a jury, and following a denial of the hospital's motion for compulsory non-suit and directed verdict, the jury returned a verdict for Mrs. Calhoun in the amount of $12,000. The hospital filed a motion for judgment non obstante veredicto or new trial. The motion was denied, and this appeal followed.

-1-

The hospital contends that the lower court should have granted its motion for judgment n.o.v.

In considering a motion for judgment n.o.v., the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences capable of being drawn therefrom, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict winner. Flickinger Estate v. Ritsky, 452 Pa. 69, 305 A.2d 40 (1973). The court must find and consider only that evidence which supports the verdict, and all conflicts must be resolved in favor of the prevailing party. Moyer v. Ford Motor Co., 205 Pa. Super. 384, 209 A.2d 43, allocatur refused, 205 Pa. Super. xxxvii (1965). . . . In the present case, therefore, this Court must consider whether the evidence, reviewed in the light of these principles, can in any way support a finding of liability against appellant.

Winkler v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc., 240 Pa. Super. 641, 643-644, 359 A.2d 440, 441 (1976).

Mrs. Ruth E. Muhtler testified as follows. On April 25, 1974, at about 2:00 p.m. she visited a friend who was a patient on the second floor of the hospital. She observed that the hallway in front of her friend's room was being wet-mopped, and that the cleaning woman was progressing down the hall in the direction of the next room, where Mrs. Calhoun's husband was a patient. The floor was being wet-mopped from wall to wall and no dry spots were apparent.

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 570]

N.T. 124. In order to enter the room Mrs. Muhtler walked on the wet floor and almost "tramped on her [the cleaning woman's] mop." N.T. 5. She went in, mentioned the condition of the floor to her friend, and remarked that "it would be a wonder if someone didn't fall." N.T. 5. No more than two minutes later, Mrs. Muhtler heard a commotion in the hallway. She stepped out of the room and saw Mrs. Calhoun being helped up off the floor. N.T. 6.

Mrs. Calhoun testified that as she left her husband's room, accompanied by a Reverend Brest, she started up the hall and suddenly was on the floor. N.T. 39-40.

Charles M. Hill, the hospital's executive housekeeper, testified that warning signs are always posted whenever a floor in the hospital is mopped, or even when a spill is cleaned up. N.T. 91-92. Mrs. Muhtler and Mrs. Calhoun testified that they did not see any warning signs. N.T. 28, 53.

From this testimony it may be seen that the gist of Mrs. Calhoun's complaint was that the hospital had negligently failed to warn her of an unreasonably dangerous condition or to protect her from such condition. See Restatement (Second) of Torts ยง 343 (1965).

In Lenkiewicz v. Lange, 242 Pa. Super. 87, 96, 363 A.2d 1172, 1177 (1976) (concurring opinion), Judge Hoffman described a plaintiff's burden by quoting the Supreme Court, as follows:

"[I]t is not necessary under Pennsylvania law, that every fact or circumstance point unerringly to liability; it is enough that there be sufficient facts for the jury to say reasonably that the preponderance favors liability. . . . Also, it is beyond the power of the court to say whether two or more reasonable inferences are 'equal.' . . . The facts are for the jury in any case whether based upon direct or circumstantial evidence where a reasonable conclusion can be arrived at which would place liability ...


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