Appeal from the Order entered April 11, 1984 in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil, No. 78-8007
Alexander A. DiSanti, Media, for appellants.
James P. Gannon, Media, for appellees.
Montemuro, Roberts and Bloom, JJ.*fn*
[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 121]
Appellant Paul Zanine and his wife, Nancy,*fn1 sued appellee Robert Gallagher*fn2 for injuries allegedly caused by appellee's negligence in inducing appellant, a police officer, to engage in a high speed automobile chase. A jury found appellant to have been 51% negligent and appellee to have been 49% negligent, and judgment was consequently entered in favor of appellee. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102(a). Appellants now challenge the trial court's denial of their motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. Because we believe appellants have neither alleged nor proven sufficient facts to establish a cause of action against appellee for negligence, we affirm.
[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 122]
On December 18, 1977, appellant was assigned to patrol the Brookline-Oakmont section of Haverford from midnight until 8 a.m. Before beginning his shift, he was advised of a recent increase in car thefts and thefts of parts from parked cars in this section of Haverford.
Around 2 a.m., while driving east on Eagle Road in the business district of Oakmont, appellant saw a number of youths, including appellee, standing behind a parked car. On seeing appellant's squad car, the youths jumped into the parked car and sped away through a red light, with appellee at the wheel. Believing that the youths had committed a crime, appellant radioed the police station of this series of events, turned on his emergency lights and siren, and pursued appellee onto Darby Road.
The chase proceeded on Darby Road, a two-lane highway with many sharp curves and blind turns, at speeds of about 80 miles per hour, until appellee lost control of his car and crashed into an embankment. Appellant managed to stop his vehicle about 6 feet from appellee's car. No one was seriously injured.
Shortly after the crash, other police cars arrived on the scene in response to appellant's radio message and helped appellant take appellee and his passengers to the nearby Haverford police station. About 10 minutes after arriving at the station, appellant began experiencing severe chest pains and nausea, which were later diagnosed as symptoms of an acute heart attack. Appellants brought the present action to recover damages resulting from the heart attack, which they allege was caused by appellee's negligence in fleeing appellant.
Two grounds for relief are asserted on this appeal. First, appellants contend that they were entitled to judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the evidence presented at trial failed to establish that Paul Zanine was contributorily negligent. Alternatively, appellants argue that they are entitled to a new trial because the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury that a party may be found ...