No. 1210 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, Civil Action No. 1976-0437.
James G. Callas, Kittanning, for appellant.
S. Asher Winikoff, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Price, Hester and Montgomery, JJ.
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A trial was held on April 14, 1977, in which the jury returned a verdict for appellant, holding invalid a release signed by her which discharged appellee from any and all claims arising from an automobile accident. Appellee subsequently
[ 272 Pa. Super. Page 294]
moved for judgment non obstante veredicto, and the trial court granted the motion upon the conclusion that it had erred during the trial in refusing appellee's request for binding instructions. This appeal followed.
The circumstances surrounding the signing of the release are as follows. On November 23, 1975, appellant was involved in an accident while riding in a car driven by appellee, and sustained injuries to the head and a broken leg. She was admitted to Armstrong County Memorial Hospital and on November 24 was transferred on the advice of her doctor, Samuel Cross, to Presbyterian University Medical Center for neurosurgical consultation. There, she remained under the care of a Dr. Maroon until she was transferred back to Armstrong County Memorial Hospital on December 5. On December 10, she was discharged in the care of her parents, and she remained at their home until early February 1976. At that time, she returned to her own home accompanied by her three-year old daughter, and continued to report for regular check-ups with Dr. Maroon and Dr. Cross until October 1976.
Following the accident, appellant suffered from an impaired memory, decreased ability to concentrate on such things as reading, and increased irritability. The precise sequence of transactions occurring between Robert Clark, the adjustor from appellee's insurance company, and appellant and her parents is unclear due to appellant's and her mother's inability to recall the events. Apparently, Mr. Clark made two visits prior to the signing of the release. The first meeting took place in January 1976 at the home of appellant's parents. Both appellant and her parents were present for the discussion, which centered on appellant's insurance company's responsibility under the no-fault law. Mr. Clark did not mention any payment to be made by his insurance company.
The second visit, arranged by Mr. Clark, was precipitated by a letter from appellant's mother to Mr. Clark's insurance company claiming reimbursement for her services and lost wages incurred in caring for her daughter. The visit occurred
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in February subsequent to appellant's departure from her parents' home. Mr. Clark met with appellant's mother to explain that his company was not directly responsible to her, but that her daughter could reimburse her out of any settlement made. Ostensibly, settlement in the amount of $400*fn1 and the meaning of the release to be signed as consideration were discussed between Mr. Clark and appellant's mother. The meeting concluded with ...