Bernosky v. Greff.

Citation38 A.2d 35,350 Pa. 59
Decision Date30 June 1944
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

350 Pa. 59
38 A.2d 35


Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

June 30, 1944.

Appeal No. 40, January term, 1944, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Schuylkill County, No. 564, May term, 1940; James J. Curran, Judge.

Action by Helen Bernosky against Anthony Greff for injuries sustained by plaintiff while riding as a passenger in defendant's automobile. The jury returned a verdict for defendant, a motion for new trial was overruled, judgment was entered on the verdict, and plaintiff appeals.

Reversed with a venire.


Henry Houck, of Pottsville, for appellant.

James J. Gallagher, of Mahanoy City, for appellee.

MAXEY, Chief Justice.

Appellant contends that when a passenger is injured by reason of that vehicle's leaving the highway and colliding with a pole, this passenger makes out a case of negligence against the driver by proving that the latter just before the accident fell asleep at the wheel. The court below charged the jury in effect that the mere fact that a driver of a car falls asleep at the wheel is not proof of negligence unless his falling asleep is due to his failure to take proper care and due caution and that he would be guilty of negligence only if just before falling asleep he ‘knew and felt that he was in such a condition that sleep was likely to overtake him’.

Plaintiff and defendant are first cousins. On May 19, 1939, defendant, in his automobile, drove the plaintiff from Girardville to Philadelphia. They were accompanied by the defendant's wife and step-daughter, Josephine Velevis, and the plaintiff's son, Donald, and daughter, Dorothy. On the afternoon of May 21, 1939, the same group started the return journey. At a point south of Schuylkill Haven there was a brief rain storm, which soon subsided, and it was not raining as the car proceeded from Schuylkill Haven toward Mt. Carbon. The state highway between Schuylkill Haven

38 A.2d 36

and Mt. Carbon, on which they were travelling, is a concrete three-lane-highway thirty feet in width. Near Mt. Carbon this highway curves to the left. As the car, being driven by the defendant, approached this curve, it left the highway and came into collision with a telegraph pole situated approximately fourteen feet from the edge of the highway. The plaintiff, who was on the back seat, was thrown forward by the force of the impact, sustaining injuries for which she brought suit.

After trial the jury returned a verdict for...

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15 cases
  • Siruta v. Siruta, 105,698.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • 24 Abril 2015
    ...that a prima facie showing that the driver fell asleep while driving raises a rebuttable presumption of negligence); Bernosky v. Greff, 350 Pa. 59, 60–61, 38 A.2d 35 (1944) (similar).Missy cites several cases in purported support for her position that the district court erred in denying her......
  • Kilburn v. Bush
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • 12 Julio 1996
    ...v. Burnside, supra, at 934, 192 N.Y.S.2d 452; Martin v. Koehler, supra ) and in decisions in other states (see, e.g., Bernosky v. Greff, 350 Pa. 59, 38 A.2d 35; see generally, Annotation, Physical Defect, Illness, Drowsiness, or Falling Asleep of Motor Vehicle Operator as Affecting Liabilit......
  • Commonwealth v. Huggins
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 10 Enero 2002
    ...of a degree of negligence beyond mere `absence of ordinary care.' Cathey, 645 A.2d at 251-252 (emphasis added), quoting, Bernosky v. Greff, 350 Pa. 59, 60-61, 38 A.2d 35, 36 ¶ 6 I recognize that Cathey concerned the issue of criminal negligence, rather than recklessness.14 On the other hand......
  • Keller v. DeLong, 5571
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 18 Julio 1967
    ...drowsiness or fatigue. Annot. 28 A.L.R.2d 12, 44 et seq; Bushnell v. Bushnell, 103 Conn. 583, 131 A. 432, 44 A.L.R. 785; Bernosky v. Greff, 350 Pa. 59, 38 A.2d 35; Carvalho v. Oliveria, 305 Mass. 304, 25 N.E.2d 764. Cf. Theisen v. Milwaukee Automobile Mut. Ins. Co., 18 Wis.2d 91, 118 N.W.2d......
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