Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of Christine Ehehalt, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Caron N. Ehehalt, deceased v. Nyari O'Dette, Inc., and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of State Parks, No. 78-2361.
Diane S. Hudachek, Deputy Attorney General, with her, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellant.
Stewart L. Cohen, Meltzer & Schiffrin, for appellee, Christine Ehehalt, individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Caron N. Ehehalt, Deceased.
James D. Hilly, LaBrum and Doak, for appellee, Nyari O'Dette, Inc.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of State Parks (Commonwealth) appeals a Bucks County Common Pleas Court order denying post-trial motions. We affirm.
In May, 1977, decedent Caron Ehehalt drove his automobile up a tow path*fn1 and over the edge of a Delaware Canal lock in Roosevelt State Park.*fn2 Ehehalt's wife filed wrongful death and survival act complaints*fn3 against the Commonwealth which owned the land at the scene of the incident and against Nyari O'Dette,
Inc.,*fn4 the operator of the restaurant and parking lot where Ehehalt had been a patron prior to this happening.*fn5
At trial, the jury allocated the negligence percentages as follows: 20% for O'Dette; 70% for the Commonwealth; and 10% for Ehehalt under the Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Act, as amended, 42 Pa. C.S. § 7102. It then assessed wrongful death damages at $550,000 and survival act damages act $500,000. The trial judge reduced the award to reflect Ehehalt's causal negligence and, after assessing delay damages pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 238,*fn6 wrongful death act damages then totaled $614,532.41 and survival act damages totaled $558,677.18.*fn7 The Commonwealth filed post-trial motions (1) for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (judgment n.o.v.) in its favor and (2) to reduce the verdict to not exceed $250,000.
The Commonwealth contends first that the trial judge erred as a matter of law when he refused to direct a verdict, charge ...