Danehy v. Metz

Decision Date03 November 1953
Citation140 Conn. 376,100 A.2d 843
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesDANEHY et al. v. METZ. Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut

Louis Feinmark, New Haven, with whom was Irving Smirnoff, New Haven, for appellant (defendant).

David M. Reilly, New Haven, with whom was John J. Sullivan, Jr., New Haven, for appellees (plaintiffs).


BALDWIN, Associate Justice.

This action arises out of an automobile collision occurring on Jones Hill Road in West Haven at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of August 5, 1950. Jones Hill Road is forty feet wide and runs in a general easterly and westerly direction. The plaintiff Benjamin Danehy was driving his automobile in an easterly direction with the plaintiff Helen Danehy, his wife, as a passenger. The defendant was proceeding west. The two cars collided in the general area of the middle of the highway, and injuries to the persons of the plaintiffs and to the car resulted, for which they brought suit. The defendant filed a counterclaim against Benjamin. The jury returned verdicts for the plaintiffs on their complaint and for Benjamin on the counterclaim. The court denied the defendant's motion to set aside the verdicts. The defendant has appealed from the judgment rendered on the verdicts. Practice Book, § 377.

The single error assigned by the defendant is directed against the court's instructions concerning the respective rights and duties of the drivers of vehicles approaching each other and about to pass on the open highway. The charge complained of must be considered in the light of the claims of proof of the parties. The plaintiffs' claims were as follows: When their automobile was 200 to 300 feet from the defendant's car, the drivers of both cars were proceeding upon their respective right sides of the middle of the highway which, at that point, was marked by an unbroken white line painted on the pavement. It was practicable for each driver to grant, to the other, half of the traveled portion of the highway and a fair and equal opportunity to proceed. When the two cars were forty feet from each other the defendant turned to the left, crossed the middle line of the road and collided with the plaintiffs' car. The plaintiff Benjamin, hereinafter called the plaintiff, turned his car to the left, in an effort to avoid a collision, when he saw the defendant's car coming across the middle line. The cars came together, however, south of the middle line and on the plaintiff's side of the road.

The defendant claimed to have proved the following facts: She saw the plaintiff's car coming from the west when it was a considerable distance away. It was then on its own side of the road. As it approached, it began to veer to its left and continued to do so until it came onto the northerly half of the highway and into the path of the defendant's car. Seeing this, she blew her horn twice to attract the plaintiff's attention, but to no avail. She then swung to her left, toward the middle of the road, which was the only practicable means of avoiding a collision. The plaintiff then tried to turn back to his right but the two cars collided in the middle of the roadway.

The court charged the jury upon § 2489 of the General Statutes, which provides that '[a]ny person, when * * * operating * * * a vehicle on the highway, who shall meet any person * * * operating a vehicle in the traveled portion of such highway, shall * * * seasonably turn to the right so as to give half of the traveled portion of such highway, if practicable, and a fair and equal opportunity to the person so met to proceed'. The court then called specific attention to the words 'if practicable' and charged the jury that 'there was nothing on the highway and no circumstance to prevent compliance with this statute.' The defendant claims that this was error because it removed from the consideration of the jury any question as to the practicability of the defendant's continuing on her own side of the highway after the plaintiff had veered into her path and because it gave the jury no guidance as to the legal meaning of the words 'if practicable.'

There was no difference between the responsibility and obligation resting upon the plaintiff and that resting on the defendant as their cars approached each other. The law required both to exercise due care. Deutsch v. LaBonne, 111 Conn. 41, 44, 149 A. 244. Both were under a duty to observe the law. In most cases, the question of the practicability of a driver's keepting to his right of the middle of the highway is primarily one of fact for the jury under all the circumstances. Mastorgi v. Valley View Farms, Inc., 138 Conn. 313, 316, 83 A.2d 919; ...

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12 cases
  • State v. Annunziato
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • September 16, 1975
    ...29, 220 A.2d 451. In reviewing this claim of error, the charge must be considered as a whole. Smith v. New Haven, supra; Danehy v. Metz, 140 Conn. 376, 379, 100 A.2d 843. Motive is not an element of the crime charged, and the state is under no obligation to show a motive of the accused to c......
  • Robinson v. Faulkner
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 12, 1972
    ...presents the case to the jury so that no injustice will result. Enlund v. Buske, 160 Conn. 327, 331, 278 A.2d 815; Danehy v. Metz, 140 Conn. 376, 379, 100 A.2d 843. The supplemental charge taken with the original charge would not have confused or misled the jury. Although this instruction m......
  • Akers v. Singer
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 5, 1969
    ...and momentum of the truck, the jury could reasonably conclude that his failure to apply the brakes was not negligence. Danehy v. Metz, 140 Conn. 376, 380, 100 A.2d 843. III The administratrix claims that, even if the estate is liable for the injuries sustained by Akers, the damages which th......
  • Gosselin v. Perry
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 12, 1974
    ...evidence.' A jury charge must be read as a whole and error cannot be predicated upon detached sentences or portions; Danehy v. Metz, 140 Conn. 376, 379, 100 A.2d 843; nor can error be claimed because it is not as accurate upon legal principles as the opinions of a court of last resort, if i......
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