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Hutto v. Philadelphia Parking Authority

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

June 9, 2015

Victoria Hutto
v.
Philadelphia Parking Authority and Everett Brown, Appellants

Submitted May 5, 2015

Appealed from No. 00877 September Term 2013. Common Pleas Court of the County of Philadelphia. Judge Overton, J.

Michael Casey, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Stuart I. Leon, Philadelphia, for appellee.

BEFORE: HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 477

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, JUDGE

The Philadelphia Parking Authority appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) that denied the Parking Authority's motion for post-trial relief following a non-jury trial in a personal injury action. The Parking Authority argues that the trial

Page 478

court improperly awarded the plaintiff, Victoria Hutto, damages for pain and suffering. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On June 27, 2012, Hutto was riding her bike when she was struck by a tow truck owned and operated by the Parking Authority. Hutto sustained injuries to her shoulder. Hutto filed a complaint against the Parking Authority and the tow truck driver, Everett Brown, arguing that Brown was negligent in the course and scope of his employment. In its answer, the Parking Authority denied liability and asserted the affirmative defense of immunity under the act commonly referred to as the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Tort Claims Act), 42 Pa. C.S. § § 8541 - 8542.

A non-jury trial was held on October 20, 2014. Hutto testified that prior to the accident she frequently jogged, played tennis, and danced. She rode her bike to work daily because she did not own a car. At the time of the accident, Hutto worked at Ikea. Her job required her to hang displays weighing between 20 and 40 pounds, which she could not do after the accident.

Hutto also testified that after the accident she was unable to resume the lifestyle she had previously enjoyed. Specifically, on direct examination, Hutto testified as follows regarding her level of activity after the accident:

[Counsel for Hutto]: Have you gotten back to riding the long rides that you described for us before...
[Hutto]: No. Its [sic] uncomfortable. It's not enjoyable anymore.
[Counsel for Hutto]: What do you feel like when you try to ride a longer distance.
[Hutto]: It's like very tender in the joint in my shoulder pulling myself up. I fatigue. I have shooting pains down my leg when I pedal. It hurts to hold my neck up and look ahead because it's tight.
[Counsel for Hutto]: Are there any sports that you used to play ...

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