NO. 409 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from the Order of April 28, 1980, in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Action, at No. A.D. 77-1113, Book 111 Page 223, NO. 552 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from the Order of June 25, 1980 in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Action, at No. A.D. 77-1113, Book 111, Page 223, NO. 701 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from the judgment entered of June 26, 1980 in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Action, at No. C.P. 80-1325, NO. 725 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from the Order of June 25, 1980 in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Action, at No. A.D. 77-1113, Book 111, Page 223.
Dennis St. J. Mulvihill, Pittsburgh, for appellants (at Nos. 409, 552 and 725) and for appellees (at No. 701).
Lee C. McCandless, Butler, for appellant (at No. 701) and for appellees (at Nos. 409, 552 and 725).
Beck, Montemuro and Popovich, JJ.
[ 316 Pa. Super. Page 413]
This case arises from a serious car accident which occurred on December 6, 1975. At about 4:30 a.m. James Krupa and his teenage son David were driving north on Route 8 toward Butler, Pennsylvania for a day of hunting. Richard Hoffman, not previously known to the Krupas, was driving north also, with passenger Charles Almond. James Krupa drove into the left northbound lane, overtaking Hoffman in an effort to pass him on the four lane undivided highway. At the same time, Lawrence Williams was driving southbound on his way home from an evening with friends. In the accident that then occurred the Krupa and Hoffman cars moved to the right, Krupa's car sideswiped Hoffman's car, Krupa's car's right side scraping Hoffman's car's left side. An instant later the northbound Krupa's car and the southbound Williams' car collided head-on in the northbound lane. Hoffman and Almond were uninjured and remained on the scene after the accident. They observed both the accident and its consequences.
The Krupas and Williams, all badly hurt, were removed from their cars by a local volunteer fire department rescue team and taken to hospitals for treatment. State police officers took photographs and measurements of the scene
[ 316 Pa. Super. Page 414]
for a detailed report. The injuries of the victims looked so bad it "looked like a fatality." (103a).
James Krupa suffered some facial cuts and missed about 6 weeks of work. David Krupa suffered a severe blow to his head resulting in the complete loss of the bone of his forehead and damage to the frontal lobes of his brain. At the time of trial he had undergone four operations to repair this condition.
In the litigation that ensued, the Krupas claimed (1) damages for the injuries to David, (2) medical expenses for David, (3) damages for injuries to James, (4) loss of consortium by James' wife Mary Jane, and (5) damages for severe emotional shock to James at witnessing the injury to David.
At trial, the court declared a compulsory non-suit on claims 2, 3, 4, and 5. The court also directed a verdict of liability against Williams for Count 1 and submitted the question of the amount of damages to the jury. The jury returned a verdict for David Krupa in the amount of $800,000.00.
Both the Krupas and Lawrence Williams have appealed orders of the trial court. Three separate appeals are before this court and are disposed of in this opinion. They are:
701 Pittsburgh 1980: Williams appeals the directed verdict on the evidence of liability and appeals the $800,000.00 verdict as excessive.
725 Pittsburgh 1980: James and Mary Jane Krupa appeal the order that required them to proceed to trial on May 12, 1980 with an attorney other than their personal attorney, Dennis Mulvihill, who was not available. The initial trial attorney and Mulvihill were from the same firm but he was not as familiar with the case as Mulvihill.
409/552 Pittsburgh 1980: James and Mary Krupa appeal from the order permitting Nationwide Insurance, Lawrence Williams' insurer, to pay policy limits on David Krupa's claim into court and to be released from further liability on that claim only.
[ 316 Pa. Super. Page 415]
accident always drops straight down at the point of impact (99a), that all of the debris from this accident was in the northbound lanes (100a), and that skid marks of the Krupa vehicle were visible on the pavement from the left northbound lane to the right northbound lane (100a) and that Richard Hoffman was interviewed at the scene and stated that the Williams car came toward his and the Krupa vehicle from across the highway (102a).
Almond, the passenger in Hoffman's car, testified that the Williams and Krupa cars were in the right northbound lane, and that Hoffman's car was on the berm after the accident. (116a).
James Krupa testified that he was in the left northbound lane when he saw headlights of a car coming toward him (165a) and that he was in the same lane when the impact occurred (164a).
Williams testified that he was on the right lane of the southbound side of the road (288a) and that he then was subject to a "blinding" "glare" (285a) of uncertain origin or location (288a). The impact must have occurred after that point, but he is not sure how (286a). Trooper Hazlett had conceded on cross examination that as the Krupa vehicle moved into the passing lane to pass the Hoffman car, Krupa's headlights would have an effect on southbound traffic (107a).
The record reveals that the first impact, between the Krupa and Hoffman cars was due to the effort of Krupa to avoid an imminent collision with the oncoming Williams car. The inference from the testimony concerning the skid marks is that Krupa braked sharply and steered to the right. The inference from the testimony that the debris was found entirely on the northbound lanes is that the impact between the Krupa and Williams cars occurred in the northbound lanes. The conclusion is inescapable that Williams was on the wrong side of the road, ...