Bazzano v. Ware, 7748

Citation530 S.W.2d 650
Decision Date26 November 1975
Docket NumberNo. 7748,7748
CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas. Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
PartiesEdwin BAZZANO et al., Appellants, v. Joseph E. WARE, Appellee.

Seale, Stover & Coffield, Gary Gatlin, Jasper, for appellants.

Gordon R. Pate, Beaumont, for appellee.

STEPHENSON, Justice.

This is an action for damages for personal injuries received in a rear-end collision. Plaintiffs, Edwin Bazzano, and wife Sue, and Dennis Goodman, and wife Lona, were all occupants of an automobile struck from the rear by one driven by defendant, Joseph E. Ware. Trial was by jury and judgment was rendered for plaintiffs upon the verdict. Plaintiffs have appealed, and the parties will be referred to as they were in the trial court.

The jury failed to find that any of the plaintiffs were injured as a result of this collision and answered, 'None' to the issues inquiring about damages for personal injuries. However, the jury then found a small amount of money for each plaintiff in answer to an issue as to expenses for medical care in the past 'for treatment of his (or her) injuries resulting from the occurrence in question.' The judgment was for plaintiffs for the amounts of the medical expense and the damage to the Dennis Goodman automobile.

Plaintiff's first two points of error are that the jury findings of 'No' to the issues asking whether the plaintiffs were injured, and as to 'None' to the personal injuries damage issues, were contrary to the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. We consider the entire record in passing upon these points of error.

The record before us shows that when the jury first brought in its verdict, it had failed to find any of the plaintiffs had been injured, but had answered the issue inquiring about damages for personal injuries $25.00 for each plaintiff. Counsel for plaintiffs argued to the trial court that there was a conflict between the answers to those two sets of questions. The trial court then asked the jury to resume their deliberation pointing out the conflict. The jury later returned with the verdict which was accepted by the court.

The writer of this opinion has had occasion to write upon similar questions to the ones raised here in Dupree v. Blackmon, 481 S.W.2d 216 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1972, writ ref'd n.r.e.), and Bittick v. Ward, 448 S.W.2d 174 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1969, writ ref'd n.r.e.). As we said in Dupree v. Blackmon, supra, this is not a case in which we are called upon to decide whether or not the damages found by the jury are inadequate, because in both cases the jury answered, 'None.' We conclude here, as we did in Dupree v. Blackmon, supra, that even though the amount of damages is ordinarily left to the discretion of the jury, they cannot ignore the undisputed facts and arbitrarily deny any recovery. We find the answers 'None' to the damage issues for personal injuries are so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and manifestly unjust.

These undisputed physical facts are evidence that the plaintiffs suffered some injuries resulting in pain and suffering:

1. Defendant testified he was following plaintiff's automobile, about one car's length apart, when he heard a whistle, looked away, and when he looked back it was too late, and he could not avoid hitting the other car.

2. The speed of defendant's car, 'I don't really know how fast I was driving. I think I was within the speed limit.'

3. The amount of damage done to the two automobiles--$327.53 to the Goodman car and $425.00 to defendant's car.

In addition to those physical facts, we also have the following evidence:

1. All four plaintiffs went to the emergency ward of the Orange Memorial Hospital immediately after the collision.

2. A man came along after the accident and drove the plaintiffs to the hospital.

3. Edwin Bazzano complained to defendant about pain in his neck immediately after the collision.

4. Dr. Popejoy testified that all four plaintiffs were injured as a result of this collision, and found muscle spasms in the backs of three of the four. He also testified that the miscarriage suffered by Lona Goodman (six weeks after the collision) was probably caused by this incident.

5. All four plaintiffs testified to the pain they had suffered and were still suffering at the date of trial.

6. Edwin Bazzano testified he had received injuries to his neck and back and had rebruised his side. He had missed three weeks of work at Sneed's because of his neck, and his headaches were getting worse.

7. Dennis Goodman testified to injuries to his neck and back, and that he had to give up a job driving a truck because he couldn't take getting in and out of the truck with his back trouble. Also, he had to quit a job at Billups service station because he could not fix flats. He has been taking aspirin and pain pills. In addition to all of this, the jury then found the plaintiffs were damaged in the amount of some of their medical expenses as a result of their injuries received in this collision.

Once again the jury could have concluded that none of the injuries were serious; however, the fact of some injury and resulting damage from pain and suffering is inescapable. See authorities cited at page 219 in Dupree v. Blackmon, supra. See also, Blair v. Buksnys, 521 S.W.2d 652 (Tex.Civ.App.--San Antonio 1975, no writ).

Reversed and remanded.

KEITH, Justice (dissenting).

Believing that the court has erred in reversing the judgment of the trial court, I respectfully dissent.

We face again the recurring question of a jury verdict fixing liability on a defendant but denying to plaintiffs any damages for alleged personal injuries sustained in an automobile collision. See, e.g., Bittick v. Ward, 448 S.W.2d 174 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1969, writ ref'd n.r.e.), and Dupree v. Blackmon, 481 S.W.2d 216 (Tex.Civ.App.--Beaumont 1972, writ ref'd n.r.e.). The opinions in the two prior cases were written by Justice Stephenson and, in each instance, the finding of 'none' in answer to the damage...

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