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HELEN E. BRONCHAK v. DONALD G. REBMANN (01/31/79)

decided: January 31, 1979.

HELEN E. BRONCHAK, APPELLANT,
v.
DONALD G. REBMANN, APPELLEE



No. 392 April Term, 1978, Appeal from Judgment entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division, A.D. No. 76-461, Book 107, Page 271.

COUNSEL

William B. Dixon, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Lee A. Montgomery, Butler, for appellee.

Cercone, Wieand and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 263 Pa. Super. Page 138]

In this action of trespass, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $63.30. The trial court denied a motion for new trial based on alleged inadequacy of the verdict, and judgment was entered on the verdict. This appeal followed.

On April 15, 1975, at or about 1:30 o'clock, A.M., Helen Bronchak, appellant, was on her way home from work. She stopped her Pontiac automobile on the Hansen Avenue Exit Ramp at its intersection with New Castle Street in Butler, Pennsylvania. In compliance with a "Yield" sign there erected, appellant allowed a vehicle to pass on the intersecting street and then moved forward. When she observed the approach of another vehicle on New Castle Street, she stopped again. This time her vehicle was struck in the rear by a vehicle operated by appellee, Donald G. Rebmann.

Immediately following the accident, appellant complained of pain, but no injury was visible to an investigating policeman. He offered to take appellant to the hospital but she declined. Instead, she called her son, who came to the scene of the accident and transported her to the Butler County

[ 263 Pa. Super. Page 139]

Memorial Hospital. There she was treated in the emergency room and discharged. The bill for hospital services was $63.30.

On the following day, appellant visited Dr. James T. McClowry, to whom she complained of neck pains and injury to her right knee. Examination revealed a superficial bruise of the knee and tightness of the neck muscles. Dr. McClowry made a diagnosis of cervical strain. He testified that he prescribed muscle relaxants and physiotherapy. He continued to treat appellant, he said, until June 15, 1975.*fn1 He submitted a bill for $369. Appellant did not return to work prior to August 21, 1975, when she was laid off.

Expert medical testimony was not in agreement. Appellant's physician opined that appellant had been permanently disabled. Appellee's orthopedic expert testified that when he examined appellant he found no objective symptoms and opined that appellant had fully recovered from any initial cervical strain which she might have sustained. Both doctors agreed, and x-rays confirmed, that appellant had been suffering from severe, pre-existing, degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine and that her condition was compounded by calcium deposits and curvature of the spine. They disagreed, however, about the effect of the accident on April 15, 1975. Appellant's physician said that the pre-existing condition had been aggravated by trauma, whereas appellee's expert denied that there had been aggravation.

Where adequacy of the verdict is in question it is the duty of an appellate court to review the entire record to determine whether an injustice has occurred. Prince v. Adams, 229 Pa. Super. 150, 324 A.2d 358 (1974). However, it is the province of the jury to assess the testimony and to accept or reject the estimates given by witnesses. If the verdict bears a reasonable resemblance to the proven damages, it is ...


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