Grasso v. Frattolillo

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Citation111 Conn. 209,149 A. 838
Decision Date31 March 1930

Appeal from Superior Court, Hartford County; John Rufus Booth Judge.

Action by Anthony Grasso, as administrator of the estate of Bartholomeo Casale, deceased, against Sam Frattolillo, to recover damages for the death of plaintiff's intestate alleged to have been caused by defendant's reckless disregard of his rights. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appeals.

No error.

Louis M. Schatz and Nathan A. Schatz, both of Hartford, for appellant.

Ralph O. Wells and William S. Locke, both of Hartford, for appellee.



The jury could reasonably have found the following facts: The plaintiff's intestate was a guest in a car owned and operated by the defendant. They were proceeding behind two or three other cars which were being operated at a speed of between twenty and twenty-five miles an hour, down a grade upon a highway which was eighteen feet wide, paved with asphalt, with three-foot shoulders on either side, and the edges of the paved road being somewhat rough and irregular. The defendant had a clear vision ahead for about half a mile there were no cars approaching from the opposite direction and he increased his speed and pulled over to the left with the purpose of passing the cars which preceded him. As he reached the first car, its driver also pulled to the left in an apparent endeavor to pass the car in front of him. The defendant pulled to the extreme left side of the road and proceeded with his left wheels on the shoulder of the road. As he was about to pass the third car in line, the left rear wheel of his car caught on the edge of the paved road, causing his car to skid. The defendant lost control of his car, which ran across the road, colliding with the car which he was attempting to pass, and overturned; the plaintiff's intestate receiving the injuries which caused his death.

The court correctly charged the jury that, under our so-called " guest statute" (Public Acts of 1927, c. 308), the plaintiff in this action could only recover upon proof that the accident was caused by the defendant's heedless and reckless disregard of the rights of others. Upon the foregoing facts we cannot say that the jury could not reasonably have reached the conclusion that the conduct of the defendant was not such as to indicate a reckless disregard of the rights of others. The court did not therefore err in denying the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict.

Upon the trial, the plaintiff offered in evidence a certified copy of a record in the town court of Windsor from which it appeared that the defendant pleaded guilty in that court to an information which charged that he did, at the time and place in question, " operate a motor vehicle upon the public highway recklessly or at a rate of speed greater than reasonable and proper, having regard to the width, traffic and use of the highway, or so as to endanger the property or life or limb of a person." The court admitted this record as evidence of an admission on the part of the defendant as to the character of his operation of his car on the date in question. In commenting upon this record in its charge, the court called attention to the fact that, while the document upon its back contained a notation that it was a complaint for reckless driving upon which a plea of guilty and a finding of guilty was indorsed, the complaint itself charged the defendant in the alternative with reckless driving or at an improper rate of speed or in a manner such as to endanger the life or property of another, and added: " Under these circumstances you ought not to unhestitatingly conclude therefrom that the defendant by his plea thereto admitted his conduct to have been reckless, for such may not have been the fact. However, the exhibit is before you and you will give to it, as to all the rest of the evidence, such weight as you deem it to be entitled." The plaintiff claims error in this portion of the charge, in that the court should have told the jury that the judgment file in the case in the town court disclosed the fact that the defendant had in that case pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving.

It is true that it was the duty of the court to construe this judgment as it would construe any document or written contract in evidence before it. Jordan, Marsh & Co. v Patterson, 67 Conn. 473, 35 A. 521; De Santo v. Burkle, 106 Conn. 677, 138 A. 788. But the construction...

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26 cases
  • Mazziotti v. Allstate Ins. Co., 15505
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 13 d2 Maio d2 1997
    ...35 Atl. 521 [1896]; De Santo v. Burkle, 106 Conn. 677, 138 Atl. 788 [1927]." Grasso v. Frattolillo, 111 Conn. [240 Conn. 807] 209, 212, 149 A. 838 (1930). " 'Effect must be given to that which is clearly implied as well as to that which is expressed.' " Lashgari v. Lashgari, 197 Conn. 189, ......
  • Lashgari v. Lashgari, 12293
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 13 d2 Agosto d2 1985
    ...The construction of a judgment is a question of law for the court. See 49 C.J.S., Judgments § 436; see also Grasso v. Frattolillo, 111 Conn. 209, 212, 149 A. 838 (1930); see generally Jordan, Marsh & Co. v. Patterson, 67 Conn. 473, 479, 35 A. 521 (1896). As a general rule, judgments are to ......
  • State v. Ramsundar, 12843
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 9 d2 Junho d2 1987
    ...were, under the circumstances, admissions of prior misconduct which were properly admitted into evidence. See Grasso v. Frattolillo, 111 Conn. 209, 212, 149 A. 838 The defendant finally complains that the trial court erred in its charge to the jury by commenting on the evidence in a manifes......
  • State v. Edwards
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 27 d4 Julho d4 1972
    ...the defendant cannot complain that he did not know the nature of the offense with which he was charged. See Grasso v. Frattolillo, 111 Conn. 209, 212, 149 A. The defendant also argues that the court in effect amended the indictment by charging that the jury could find him guilty of first-de......
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