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KATHLEEN MORRIS v. JOHN F. MOSS (05/15/81)

filed: May 15, 1981.

KATHLEEN MORRIS, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN F. MOSS



No. 1059 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County at Civil Action No. 78-03896.

COUNSEL

Gerard J. Jackson, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Edward J. Carney, Jr., Media, for appellee.

Spaeth, Brosky and Hoffman, JJ. Spaeth and Hoffman, JJ., concur in result.

Author: Brosky

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 590]

This case arises from an automobile accident in which the automobile driven by the appellee struck the appellant who was a pedestrian. A jury found the defendant not to have been negligent. Appellant argues that certain evidence was improperly admitted and that the charge to the jury failed to include points which appellant claims should have been explained to the jury. Finding error in the instructions given to the jury, we reverse the order of the lower court and remand for a new trial.

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 591]

Appellant's first allegation of error is the admission of testimony by a policeman who arrived at the scene of the accident after it occurred and who testified as to his estimate of the speed at which appellant was traveling. Appellant objects to the use of his testimony on the grounds that the witness was not properly qualified as an expert and that he testified on an ultimate issue in the case. Neither argument calls for the exclusion of the testimony.

At the outset of our discussion we note that:

Rulings on evidence are within the discretion of the trial judge and will not be reversed absent a manifest abuse of that discretion. Capan v. Divine Providence Hospital, 270 Pa. Super. 127, 410 A.2d 1282 (1980), Westerman v. Stout, 232 Pa. Super. 195, 335 A.2d 741 (1975).

In establishing that Officer Boyer was an expert qualified to state an approximate rate of speed based on skid marks, the appellee's counsel asked the witness what courses he had taken which would be of assistance in interpreting skid marks. The witness stated that he had taken college seminars in traffic safety and traffic accidents and had also attended State Police seminars on traffic safety. He also testified that at the time of the accident he had been an officer for eight years. The witness was asked to estimate the speed at which appellee had been traveling based on these experiences.

In Rosato v. Nationwide Insurance Company, 263 Pa. Super. 340, 397 A.2d 1238 (1979), this court said "However, an officer may, based upon skid measurements and his expertise, state the approximate speed of a car even though he was not present at the accident." 263 Pa. Super. at 345, 397 A.2d at 1241. See: Rutovitsky v. Magliocco, 394 Pa. 387, 147 A.2d 153 (1959). We would add that, as with the admission of evidence, the question of the qualifications of an expert witness is one for the discretion of the trial court. Commonwealth v. Williams, 270 Pa. Super. 27, 410 A.2d 880 (1980). "If a witness has any reasonable pretension to specialized knowledge on the subject under investigation he or she is qualified as an expert." Kravinsky v. Glover, 263 Pa. Super. 8,

[ 290 Pa. Super. Page 592396]

A.2d 1349 (1979). The lower court did not abuse its ...


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