No. 772 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Judgment in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division - Law, at No. 74-7894.
Lindley M. Cowperthwait, Jr., Norristown, for appellants.
John O'Rourke, Norristown, for appellee.
Price, Wieand and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 302 Pa. Super. Page 509]
Appellants, Anne Lesher and her parents, Earl and Noreen Lesher, commenced this action in trespass on June 3,
[ 302 Pa. Super. Page 5101974]
to recover for property damage and personal injuries sustained in a collision between automobiles driven by Anne Lesher and appellee, Dorothy Henning. The accident occurred on the night of November 11, 1972 at the intersection of Morris Road and Valley Forge Road in Worcester Township, Montgomery County. At the completion of trial on March 16, 1979, the jury rendered its verdict in favor of appellee. Appellants' post-trial motion for a new trial was denied by the court below sitting en banc, with one judge dissenting. Judgment was entered and this appeal followed. Appellants contend, inter alia, that the trial court erred in permitting a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who did not witness the accident to express his opinion that Miss Lesher failed to stop at a stop sign, thereby causing the collision. We agree, and, accordingly, vacate the judgment and remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County for a new trial.
At approximately 10:30 on the night of November 11, 1972, Anne Lesher was driving east on Morris Road toward its intersection with Valley Forge Road. Morris Road is a two lane highway controlled by a stop sign at its intersection with Valley Forge Road. Valley Forge Road, which is designated Pennsylvania State Route 363, is a two lane highway running north and south. There are no signs or signals regulating traffic on Valley Forge Road at the Morris Road intersection. Appellee was driving south on Valley Forge Road when her vehicle collided at the intersection with the automobile driven by Miss Lesher. Miss Lesher suffered serious personal injuries as a result of the collision.
At trial, Miss Lesher testified that, as she approached the intersection, she observed a "heavy stream of traffic coming from my left on Valley Forge Road." (N.T. 59). She further testified that, upon reaching the intersection, she stopped at the stop sign, waited for the line of vehicles to pass in front of her, and then proceeded into the intersection, whereupon her automobile was struck by appellee's vehicle. To rebut this testimony, and to establish that Miss
[ 302 Pa. Super. Page 511]
Lesher was herself negligent in failing to stop at the stop sign on Morris Road,*fn1 appellee called several witnesses, the first of whom was Pennsylvania State Trooper Richard Prebula. Trooper Prebula investigated the accident but did not actually witness the collision. After it was established that Trooper Prebula had investigated the accident, the following exchange occurred:
Q. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE]: Would you tell us, as a result of your investigation, did you make a determination ...