Fredrickson v. Heline

Citation252 Iowa 92,106 N.W.2d 74
Decision Date15 November 1960
Docket NumberNo. 50149,50149
PartiesBlanche FREDRICKSON, Appellee, v. John P. HELINE and Oscar E. Heline, Appellants.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

Duffield, Pinegar & Spencer, by Richard L. Pinegar, Des Moines, for appellants.

Bannister, Carpenter, Ahlers & Cooney, by Paul Ahlers and Robert Allbee, Des Moines, and John C. McDonald, Dallas Center, for appellee.

THOMPSON, Justice.

On January 4, 1959, a collision occurred between an automobile owned and driven by the plaintiff and another car owned by the defendant Oscar E. Heline which was driven at the time by the defendant John P. Heline. Plaintiff's action asked to recover damages sustained as the result of the alleged negligence of John P. Heline in operating the automobile owned by his codefendant, Oscar E. Heline. The jury returned its verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of $22,500. The defendants moved for a new trial, their motion was denied, and they appeal to this court.

I. The only error assigned by the defendants is thus stated: 'The Court erred in overruling defendants' Motion for New Trial on the ground the verdict was excessive.' Accordingly we have only the question raised by the error assigned for determination here.

While the assigned error is broad, it is evident the defendants do not seriously urge the verdict was so excessive as to indicate passion and prejudice on the part of the jury which in and of itself requires a new trial. There is no record of any action by or influence upon the jury which would arouse passion and prejudice. Mallinger v. Brussow, Iowa, 105 N.W.2d 626. Each of the authorities cited and relied upon by the defendants goes only to the duty of the court to reduce the amount assessed by ordering a remittitur of a part of the verdict or a new trial if the remittitur is not filed. We shall consider the case from that standpoint.

That the courts have a duty to order a remittitur or, in the alternative, a new trial, when it appears the jury has not truly responded to the issues and the amount awarded is not within the rule of fair compensation is well settled. Ferris v. Riley, 251 Iowa ----, 101 N.W.2d 176, 184, and authorities there cited. We have also said that no two cases are identical in their facts as to the amount of damages sustained. Ferris v. Riley, supra, at page ___ of 251 Iowa, at page 184 of 101 N.W.2d. We must evaluate each case upon its own record, and we must be careful that we do not invade the province of the jury, which is the fact finding body empowered to assess damages. Mallinger v. Brussow, supra; Soreide v. Vilas & Co., 247 Iowa 1139, 1153, 78 N.W.2d 41, 49; Von Tersch v. Ahrendsen, 251 Iowa ----, 99 N.W.2d 287, 290.

We are also committed to the rule that in considering questions arising upon matters such as this we must take the evidence in the aspect most favorable to the plaintiff which it will reasonably bear. It will not avail the defendants to rely upon evidence in the record favorable to them if there is other evidence which fairly supports the verdict and judgment rendered in the trial court. We must also give weight to the fact that the trial court, which has had the benefit of seeing and hearing the witnesses, observing the conduct of the jury, and has before it all the incidents and the entire picture of the trial, has not seen fit to interfere. Von Tersch v. Ahrendsen, supra, at page ___ of 251 Iowa, at page 292 of 99 N.W.2d; Newman v. Blom, 249 Iowa 836, 851, 89 N.W.2d 349, 359.

It is in the light of these established principles that we must view the evidence as to plaintiff's injuries and determine whether it clearly appears that the amount awarded is beyond that which can be fairly sustained by the record and violates the rule of fair compensation.

II. At the time of the accident the plaintiff was a widow, 55 years of age. She was 56 at the time of the trial. Since November, 1956, she had been regularly employed in stock room work at Younkers' store in Des Moines, at $165 per month. She has been unable to return to her employment there because of her injuries, and after attempting to work at a canning factory she was compelled to quit after three days. Mortality tables introduced in evidence showed that at 56 years of age she had a life expectancy of 17.1 years.

She had suffered from arthritis for some years before the accident, but had no difficulty in carrying on her work. Immediately after the collision she was taken to the office of Dr. Eugene E. Lister, in Dallas Center. She had a bump on her right shin which was black and blue and her arm was painful and was black and blue between her elbow and shoulder. Both knees were painful. She was able to walk into the doctor's office and with the aid of her son to get up the step to her apartment. For some time following her knees and arm were very sore and painful, the left knee causing the most pain. She testified she had excruciating pain, and could not...

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11 cases
  • Allen v. Lindeman, 52317
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 7, 1967
    ...on the part of the jury.' Four recent cases are analyzed, with quotations from three, supporting the statement. Fredrickson v. Heline, 252 Iowa 92, 96, 106 N.W.2d 74, 77, is also cited. Mazur v. Grantham, 255 Iowa 1292, 1303, 125 N.W.2d 807, 813--814, makes this important pronouncement: 'In......
  • Shover v. Iowa Lutheran Hospital, 50106
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 11, 1961
    ...witnesses, observing the jury and having before it all the incidents of the trial, did not see fit to interfere. Fredrickson v. Heline, 1960, 251 Iowa ----, 106 N.W.2d 74, and The allowance of damages is primarily for the jury and we will not interfere therewith unless it clearly appears th......
  • Simpson v. Iowa State Highway Commission, 54650
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 25, 1972
    ...... Fredrickson v. Heline, 1960, 252 Iowa 92, 106 N.W.2d 74, and citations. * * *." .         If there is ......
  • Wagaman v. Ryan, 52038
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 3, 1966
    ...in defendant's motion for new trial and we give weight to its approval of the amount awarded. Shover case, supra; Fredrickson v. Heline, 252 Iowa 92, 94, 106 N.W.2d 74, 76, and citations; Tucker v. Tolerton & Warfield Co., 249 Iowa 405, 414, 86 N.W.2d 822, 829, and citations. We find no ade......
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