235 N.E.2d 90 (Ind.App. 1968), 20764, Davison v. Williams

Docket Nº20764.
Citation235 N.E.2d 90, 142 Ind.App. 402
Party NameHenry DAVISON, Appellant, v. Herman L. WILLIAMS, Appellee.
Case DateMarch 26, 1968
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 90

235 N.E.2d 90 (Ind.App. 1968)

142 Ind.App. 402

Henry DAVISON, Appellant,

v.

Herman L. WILLIAMS, Appellee.

No. 20764.

Appellate Court of Indiana, Division No. 1.

March 26, 1968

Page 91

Rehearing Denied June 10, 1968. Opinion Superseded 242 N.E.2d 101.

Page 92

[142 Ind.App. 403] Robert W. Davis, Carydon, for appellant.

James D. Williams, Corydon, for appellee.

COOPER, Judge.

This appeal is from an action below wherein the Appellee sought to recover damages in two paragraphs of complaint for personal injuries and property damages sustained by him in an automobile accident. The Appellee's complaint alleged that he had stopped his car on a three lane highway to permit a train to pass; that the highway was dry; that the weather was clear and that the Appellant drove his automobile into the rear of the Appellee's automobile whereby the Appellee suffered personal injury and property damage. The Appellant answered in two paragraphs of general denial.

[142 Ind.App. 404] After the issues were closed, the trial was had by jury which returned a verdict for the Appellee in the amount of seventy five hundred dollars. Judgment was entered on the verdict, and subsequently the Appellant filed his motion for a new trial, which said motion was overruled. The error assigned on appeal is the overruling of the motion for new trial.

The Appellant's motion for a new trial, omitting the caption and signature, reads as follows:

'The defendant in the above-entitled cause moves the court for a new trial herein on each of the following grounds;

'1. The damages assessed are excessive.

'2. Error in the assessment of the amount of recovery in this, that the amount is too large.

'3. The verdict of the jury is not sustained by sufficient evidence.

'4. The verdict of the jury is contrary to law.

'5. Error of law occurring at the trial, as follows:

'A. The court errored in refusing to give to the jury the request of the defendant each of the written instructions tendered and requested by the defendant and numbered six and eight.

'B. The court errored in giving to the jury at the request of the plaintiff each of the plaintiff's instructions numbered five, six and seven and to the giving of each of which instructions the defendant duly objected to each of said instructions after the court had indicated the instructions it would give to the jury.'

The Appellant, as noted, first charges that the damages assessed are excessive. To warrant a reversal on this ground, it must appear that the verdict was so grossly and outrageously excessive as to induce the belief that it was the result of prejudice, partiality or corruption. Larkins v. Kohlmeyer (1950) 229 Ind. 391, 403, 98 N.E.2d 896; Swallow Coach Lines Inc., et al., v. Cosgrove (1938) 214 Ind. 532, 15 N.E.2d 92. The record which is now before us would not justify a reversal on that basis.

[142 Ind.App. 405] The Appellant's second alleged error in said motion for new trial is that there was error in the assessment of the amount of recovery, in that the amount was too large. The Appellant does not set out the jury's verdict or verdicts in his brief, but only sets out what appears to be the combined amount of judgment rendered on the verdict or verdicts as the case may have been.

Without searching the record, we cannot determine from the Appellant's brief the amounts of the respective verdicts of the jury as to personal injuries or as to property damages. We are not authorized to search the records to reverse a judgment. Hayes v. Pennick (1965) Ind.App., 204 N.E.2d 882, and authorities cited therein.

Page 93

The Appellant's third and fourth assignments in his motion for new trial which are, in substance, that the verdict is contrary to law and that the verdict is not sustained by sufficient evidence will be discussed together.

It appears that the Appellant herein in his argument is attempting to assert a defense of justification under his answers in general denial. I am of the opinion that the better practice would be to plead such a defense specially by an affirmative paragraph of answer. The reason is, the general rule follows the maxim, in the law, that the law looks to the proximate and not to the remote causes of injury. In Pomeroy, Remedies, third edition, Sec. 705, at page 767, in a discussion on actions for torts, I find the following statement: 'nor can any defense of justification be proved unless specially pleaded.' See also Hawke et al., v. Maus (1967) Ind.App., 226 N.E.2d 713, 716.

When the sufficiency of the evidence is questioned on appeal, this court does not weight the evidence, but reviews the record to see if there is any evidence or any reasonable or logical inference which may be drawn from the evidence, which if believed by the jury, would sustain [142 Ind.App. 406] the verdict. Gamble, et al., v. Lewis (1949) 227 Ind. 455, 460, 85 N.E.2d 629; Indiana Ins. Co. v. Handlon (1940) 216 Ind. 442, 24 N.E.2d 1003.

Likewise the Appellant's charge that the verdict of the jury is contrary to law requires us to apply the rule of law applicable. Our Supreme Court in the case of Pokraka, et al., v. Lummus Co. (1952) 230 Ind. 523, 532, 104 N.E.2d 669, states the rule, in substance, that we may consider only the evidence most favorable to the Appellee in a cause. It is only where the evidence is without conflict and can lead to but one conclusion and the trial court or jury has reached an opposite conclusion, that the decision of the trial court or the verdict of the jury will be set aside on the grounds that it is contrary to law. See also, Hinds, Executor, of estate of Sickels, deceased, v. McNair, et al. (1955). 235 Ind. 34, 129 N.E.2d 553; A.S.C. Corporation v. First Nat'l Bank of Elwood, et al. (1960) 241 Ind. 19, 23, 167 N.E.2d 460, and authorities cited therein.

By reason of what we have stated above, we cannot say as a matter of law that the verdict of the jury is not sustained by sufficient evidence or is contrary to law.

The Appellant's assigned error number 5A is the refusal of the trial court to give certain instructions requested by the Appellant, reading as follows:

'DEFENDANT'S INSTRUCTION NO. 6,

'A party suddenly in peril is not required to do that which after the peril is ended it is seen he might have done and escaped; the law makes allowances for lack of coolness in judgment incident to such peril. A person is not expected to exercise the coolness and forethought that an uninterested bystander might show; nor is he required to take the same precaution which it might appear afterwards might have avoided the injury. In this case if you find that Henry Davison was driving his car in a proper, prudent and careful manner and suddenly found that his foot brake had failed, the fact that he did not use his emergency brake does not necessarily constitute negligence upon his part unless[142 Ind.App. 407] you further find that he failed to exercise such care and diligence as a reasonably prudent and capable driver of an automobile would use under the unusual circumstances.'

'DEFENDANT'S INSTRUCTION NO. 8,

'A person who is driving an automobile on the public highways is not bound to anticipate or foresee any mechanical failure on the part of his automobile unless he actually knew of the defective

Page 94

condition or could have discovered the same in the exercise of reasonable care. Therefore, if you find that the sole proximate cause of the collision in this case was caused by a failure of the brakes on the automobile of the defendant, and if you further find that the defendant did not know that the brakes on his...

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