No. 1822 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division-Law, of Montgomery County, at No. 76-19316.
Paul Sandler, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Leslie A. Miller, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Cercone, President Judge and Wickersham and Brosky, JJ.
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 43]
Appellant, William Treadway, filed a Complaint in Trespass against defendant, Ebert Motor Company, for injuries and damages sustained as a result of a fall on February 1, 1975 at defendant's premises. Appellant alleged, inter alia, that the defendant failed to use due care in installing a metal plate over a ditch outside of defendant's doorway which the defendant knew, or should have known, would cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff and in addition, that the defendant failed to remove wet substances, including snow, which completely covered the plate and created a slippery surface. Furthermore, it was alleged that the defendant was under a duty of reasonable care to warn the invitee of any dangerous or unsafe condition.
The case was tried before the Honorable Joseph H. Stanziani and a jury on March 5 and 6, 1980. At trial, defendant admitted that it owned, controlled and possessed the property and was under a duty to maintain said premises. Additionally, defendant admitted that it installed a metal plate approximately ten feet by two feet at or near a doorway used to enter and exit the defendant's shop. Moreover, the plate was installed several days before appellant's fall and the purpose of the steel plate was to temporarily cover a worksite ditch while pipe was being laid. Record at 70-71.
At trial, the appellant testified that on February 1, 1975 he was employed by Contract Service Company as a mechanic and truck driver. Upon instructions from his employer,
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 44]
he drove a tractor to the defendant, Ebert Motor Company's place of business in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, to have the defendant inspect the tractor. Appellant also testified that it had been snowing on his way to work that morning, but that it had stopped by the time he left Contract Service Company to go to Ebert Motor Company, which was approximately 4, 5 or 6 miles away. He testified that the ground and roadways were covered by a layer of snow.
Upon arrival at the defendant's place of business, William Treadway parked the tractor in front of a big garage door and walked to the office entrance and after having a discussion with Bob Yoder, the shop foreman, with respect to the tractor, he and Yoder went to visually inspect the tractor. They walked through the interior of the building in order to exit through a small doorway which was placed within the larger garage door.
Q Had you ever used that door before?
Q Did anyone ever tell you not to use that door before?
Q Did anyone ever tell you on the morning of this incident that you should not walk out through that door?
Q Were there any signs posted which said you shouldn't use that door?
Q Were there any signs posted, Mr. Treadway, that there was any type of dangerous condition outside the door?
Q Mr. Treadway, did you attempt to walk through that door in order to get to where your tractor was?
Q And, what happened, Mr. Treadway, when you walked out the door?
A Well, you have to step over about a six inch piece of the door.
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 45]
Q I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you, you were talking loud. When you say a ...