No. 2028 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action Law, Cumberland County, No. 699 May Term, 1973
Richard C. Angino, Harrisburg, for appellants.
John B. Mancke, Harrisburg, for appellees.
Price, Montemuro and Van der Voort, JJ. Van der Voort, J., concurs in the result.
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 320]
This case is before the court on appeal from an Order denying appellant a new trial. The original trial resulted in a jury verdict of $7,134.00 for appellant. He asserts several trial errors as the reason for the inadequate verdict.
The action arose out of a traffic accident which occurred on May 6, 1971, when a truck operated by Harry Campbell and owned by Cement Express, Inc., struck the rear of the car driven by Jay Collins, appellant. At trial, the negligence of appellee was not seriously in doubt. Rather, the majority of the testimony focused on whether the automobile accident
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 321]
was the cause of appellant's alleged damages.*fn1 Appellee contended that appellant's medical conditions were the result of disorders which existed prior to the accident.
To adequately analyze the issues in this case, we feel it is necessary to give the medical and work background of appellant.
Jay Collins was born in 1923 in Harrisburg. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1943, where he was a gunnery instructor and was eventually transferred to the Pacific Theatre of war. He flew forty combat missions and recorded five hundred and twenty six hours of flight time.*fn2 Following discharge from the service, he had several jobs until he eventually secured a job with the Harrisburg Boys Club in 1948 as Program Director and counselor for boys, a job which he held for some twenty-five years.
In 1952, Mr. Collins was hospitalized. He was diagnosed as having hyperthyroidism. One of Mr. Collins' complaints at that time was persisting anxiety. In 1956, he was diagnosed as having diabetes. In 1964, he was hospitalized for an episode of uncontrolled diabetes, and again at that time, anxiety was mentioned as a complaint. His condition was relatively unchanged up to the time of the accident.
Appellant's position at trial was that the car accident in 1971 created a traumatic neurosis which subsequently manifested itself in severe organic abnormalities, none of which were consistent with previously diagnosed organic disorders.*fn3 Appellant alleged that his earlier service in the Air Force made his predisposed to psychological problems, and the car accident was the triggering act which subsequently ...