No. 2753 October Term, 1978, Appeal from Judgment entered upon an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil, No. 4172 April Term, 1973.
Kean K. McDonald, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Stephen M. Feldman, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Cercone, President Judge, and Hester and Catania,*fn* JJ.
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 430]
In this personal injury action, William and Cheryl Murphy, husband and wife, brought suit against the Penn Fruit Company for injuries sustained by Mrs. Murphy as a result of a stabbing incident in Penn Fruit's parking lot in 1973. Jury verdicts were returned for both plaintiffs following a five day trial. Penn Fruit's motion for a new trial was denied and this appeal followed. We affirm.
At approximately 7:30 p. m. on February 14, 1973, Mrs. Murphy had just completed her weekly grocery shopping at the Penn Fruit store located at Frankford Avenue and Pratt Street, Philadelphia. As she walked to her car parked in the adjacent lot, she was accosted by two young men who grabbed her purse, stabbed her twice in the chest, and then fled into the night. Two passersby, Charles Parrish and Cynthia McShane, assisted in transporting Mrs. Murphy to Frankford Hospital. Upon admittance, she sustained a cardiac arrest and only the immediate surgical relief efforts of attending physicians and nurses, led by Dr. Edward W. Micek, saved her life. To complicate matters, Mrs. Murphy was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Following the surgery, she went into labor and gave birth to a healthy baby girl the next morning in the hospitals intensive care unit. Suit was instituted against Penn Fruit two months thereafter.
Although her physical injuries had largely resolved themselves by the time of trial, appellees' testimony suggested that psychiatric damage to Mrs. Murphy is "of a permanent nature." Because of the knife wounds to her breast, heart, and lung, Mrs. Murphy is in constant fear of cancer, heart attack, and an early death, despite assurances of her doctors
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 431]
to the contrary. Her condition was diagnosed as anxiety neurosis with strong depressive features. We will describe Mrs. Murphy's physical and psychiatric damages in more detail, infra. Appellees' testimony also suggested that lighting in the parking lot and security personnel were inadequate.
Appellant first contends the court improperly inferred in its charge that Penn Fruit was a guarantor of Mrs. Murphy's safety from assaults by third persons. Appellant's liability to the Murphy's is bottomed on § 344 of the Restatement Second of Torts:
A possessor of land who holds it open to the public for entry for his business purposes is subject to liability to members of the public while they are upon the land for such a purpose, for physical harm caused by the accidental, negligent, or intentionally harmful acts of third persons or ...