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STEVEN C. BUCK v. SCOTT TOWNSHIP (02/24/84)

filed: February 24, 1984.

STEVEN C. BUCK, APPELLANT
v.
SCOTT TOWNSHIP, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION V. PATRICIA ANN GOTCH. STEVEN C. BUCK V. SCOTT TOWNSHIP, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, APPELLANT V. PATRICIA ANN GOTCH



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil at No. GD79-20800, Issue No. 109339. Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil at No. GD79-20800.

COUNSEL

Paul E. Moses, Pittsburgh, for Buck, appellant (at No. 547) and appellee (at No. 554).

Daniel J. Weis, Pittsburgh, for Scott Tp., appellant (at No. 554) and appellee (at No. 547).

McEwen, Beck and Hester, JJ. Hester, J., filed dissenting statement.

Author: Beck

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 151]

Stephen C. Buck and Scott Township each appeal the order of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County of May 5, 1982 which granted a new trial in Buck's suit against the township. Buck was injured in June 1978 while riding his motorcycle in Scott Township and he brought two causes of action in trespass: one against the township for negligent failure to erect or replace stop signs or traffic lights at the site of the accident, and one against Patricia Ann Gotch, the driver of the other vehicle. Gotch was joined as additional defendant in the suit against the township.

A jury trial returned a verdict of $89,000 in favor of Buck against the township. The lower court then molded the verdict, reducing it to $44,500 on the basis of the jury's answers to interrogatories, which found that Buck and the township were each fifty per cent negligent. The jury also found that Gotch was not negligent.

Following the verdict, the township moved for judgment non obstante veredicto and for a new trial, and Buck moved for a new trial restricted to the issue of damages alone, not liability. The lower court denied the motion for the judgment n.o.v. and granted an unrestricted new trial. The township here appeals the denial of the judgment n.o.v., and Buck appeals the grant of the unrestricted new trial.

Initially we note that an order denying a new trial or judgment n.o.v. is interlocutory and non-appealable until it is

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 152]

    reduced to judgment and docketed. Pa.R.A.P. 301(c); Brogley v. Chambersburg Engineering Co. v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, 282 Pa. Super. 562, 424 A.2d 952 (1981); Thomas M. Durkin & Sons, Inc. v. Nether Providence Township School Authority, 291 Pa. Super. 402, 435 A.2d 1288 (1981). However, when a party to an action moves for a judgment n.o.v. and also for a new trial, and the new trial is granted, he is not denied an appeal from the refusal of the judgment n.o.v., which is given independent review. Schroeder Brothers, Inc. v. Sabelli, 156 Pa. Super. 267, 40 A.2d 170 (1944); Corabi v. Curtis Publishing Co., 441 Pa. 432, 273 A.2d 899 (1971). Jurisdiction over Buck's appeal from the granting of a new trial is conferred by Pa.R.A.P. 311(a)(5), interlocutory appeals as of right. We therefore proceed to review the appeals of both parties from the same order.

Pennsylvania law allows a court to enter judgment n.o.v. only in the clearest of cases, after the court has reviewed all the evidence which supports the verdict winner and resolves all doubts in that party's favor. A judgment n.o.v. will be entered only in those cases where no two reasonable persons could fail to agree that the verdict is improper. Atkins v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, 489 Pa. 344, 414 A.2d 100 (1980); O'Malley v. Peerless Petroleum, Inc., 283 Pa. Super. 272, 423 A.2d 1251 (1980); Martin v. Soblotney, 296 Pa. Super. 145, 442 A.2d 700 (1982); McKnight v. City of Philadelphia, 299 Pa. Super. 327, 445 A.2d 778 (1982). We must therefore review all the evidence to determine whether Buck proved or failed to prove any negligence on the part of the township that was causally related to the accident in issue.

Buck sustained severe injuries which left him a paraplegic at the age of twenty-one when his motorcycle collided with Gotch's automobile near the intersection of Locust and Carothers in Scott Township. Buck was travelling south on Carothers, a route which he did not usually take and with which he was unfamiliar. As Buck ...


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