Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore BELL; JONES; BELL, C. J., and ROBERTS
Citation188 A.2d 719,410 Pa. 179
Decision Date19 March 1963
PartiesIrwin LIEBERMAN, Appellant, v. PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.

Page 719

188 A.2d 719
410 Pa. 179
Irwin LIEBERMAN, Appellant,
v.
PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
March 19, 1963.

[410 Pa. 180] Alan Kahn, Winokur & Kahn, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Philip Kalodner, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before BELL, C. J., and MUSMANNO, JONES, COHEN, EAGEN, O'BRIEN and ROBERTS, JJ.

JONES, Justice.

At 1:30 a. m. on April 26, 1958, a collision occurred at the intersection of Greene and Harvey Streets in the Germantown section of Philadelphia between an [410 Pa. 181] automobile owned and operated by Irwin Lieberman [Lieberman] and a passenger bus owned by the Philadelphia Transportation Co., [PTC] and operated by one Norris Anderson. Green street, 30 feet in width, runs generally in a north-south direction, while Harvey street, 24 feet in width, runs generally in an east-west direction. At the intersection of these two-way streets is a traffic signal which flashes, alternatively, red and green and was operating at the time of the accident.

Lieberman instituted a trespass action in Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County against the PTC claiming that the collision was caused solely by the latter's negligence and seeking damages sustained by him both to his automobile and to his person.

Page 720

According to Lieberman, he was traveling in an easterly direction on Harvey street and, as the approached Greene street, the traffic light was green for traffic on Harvey street; at the curb line of Greene street, he looked to his left and saw nothing approaching in that direction; he then looked to his right and saw the bus bearing down upon him; at that time part of the bus was on the left or wrong side of the imaginary center line of Greene street; that the bus struck his automobile when the latter was in the intersection and in the center of Green street. According to Anderson, the bus driver, he was proceeding in a northerly direction on Greene street at approximately 20 miles per hour; that the traffic light at the intersection was green for traffic proceeding on Greene street; when he saw the headlights of the Lieberman automobile he applied the brakes and the left front of the bus and the right front fender of the automobile came in contact.

After a trial before the Honorable Earl Chudoff and a jury, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the PTC and against Lieberman. Lieberman's motion for [410 Pa. 182] a new trial having been denied and judgment entered on the verdict, Lieberman took this appeal.

Two questions, both relating to the instructions of the trial court to the jury, are raised upon this appeal: whether the trial court erred (a) in stating to the jury that Lieberman was asserting that the fact that he had the right of way relieved him of the 'duty of exercising the highest degree of care' at the intersection and (b) in refusing one of Lieberman's requested points for charge.

Inter alia, the trial court stated to the jury: 'In this case the plaintiff [Lieberman] asserts that by reason of the green traffic signal he had the right of way at this intersection, and that this right of way relieved him somewhat of the duty of exercising the highest degree of care which ordinarily exists at intersections. That proposition cannot be affirmed as a matter of law, for, as stated at the outset, intersections are fraught with hazard and drivers must always exercise the highest degree of care to prevent accidents.' (Emphasis supplied.) At the conclusion of the entire charge the following colloquy took place: 'MR. KAHN: In discussing the law applicable to intersections and controlled intersections, I understood your Honor to say that the plaintiff here said he had the green light at the time of the accident and that this relieves him of exercising the highest degree of care. THE COURT: I never said that. MR. KAHN: I may have been mistaken, but if your Honor said that----. THE COURT: If I said that, I give you an exception. But I know I never said that.'

The thrust of Lieberman's argument is that this instruction as to the degree of care was clearly erroneous, i. e. a motorist is required at street intersections to exercise not the highest, but only a high, degree of care and that, by such instruction, the trial court placed upon Lieberman a higher standard of conduct [410 Pa. 183] than the law requires which may well have led the jury to find that Lieberman was negligent under the circumstances.

In denying a new trial, the court below sought to...

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8 practice notes
  • Morrissey v. Com., Dept. of Highways
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 9, 1970
    ...of Philadelphia, 421 Pa. 269, 218 A.2d 303 (1966); Pedretti v. Pgh. Railways Co., 417 Pa. 581, 209 A.2d 289 (1965); Lieberman v. P T C, 410 Pa. 179, 188 A.2d 719 (1963); Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 (1962). However, none of these cases involved an Express correction by the......
  • Pedretti v. Pittsburgh Rys. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 20, 1965
    ...which they accepted. [citing cases].' See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745; Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d That part of the charge which referred to the presumption of negligence was erroneous and the error was such as commands the gran......
  • Smith v. Chardak
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 2, 1981
    ...they accepted. (citing cases).' See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 ((1962)); Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d 719 ((1963))." Id. at 586, 209 A.2d at 292, quoting Hisak v. Lehigh Valley Transit Co., 360 Pa. 1, 6, 59 A.2d 900, 903 Accord ......
  • Leaphart v. Whiting Corp.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 14, 1989
    ...they accepted. [citing cases]. See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 [ (1962) ]; Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d 719 [ (1963) ]." Id. [417 Pa.] at 586, 209 A.2d at 292, quoting Hisak v. Lehigh Valley Transit Co., 360 Pa. 1, 6, 59 A.2d 900......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Morrissey v. Com., Dept. of Highways
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 9, 1970
    ...of Philadelphia, 421 Pa. 269, 218 A.2d 303 (1966); Pedretti v. Pgh. Railways Co., 417 Pa. 581, 209 A.2d 289 (1965); Lieberman v. P T C, 410 Pa. 179, 188 A.2d 719 (1963); Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 (1962). However, none of these cases involved an Express correction by the......
  • Pedretti v. Pittsburgh Rys. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 20, 1965
    ...which they accepted. [citing cases].' See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745; Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d That part of the charge which referred to the presumption of negligence was erroneous and the error was such as commands the gran......
  • Smith v. Chardak
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 2, 1981
    ...they accepted. (citing cases).' See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 ((1962)); Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d 719 ((1963))." Id. at 586, 209 A.2d at 292, quoting Hisak v. Lehigh Valley Transit Co., 360 Pa. 1, 6, 59 A.2d 900, 903 Accord ......
  • Leaphart v. Whiting Corp.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 14, 1989
    ...they accepted. [citing cases]. See also: Stegmuller v. Davis, 408 Pa. 267, 182 A.2d 745 [ (1962) ]; Lieberman v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 410 Pa. 179, 186, 188 A.2d 719 [ (1963) ]." Id. [417 Pa.] at 586, 209 A.2d at 292, quoting Hisak v. Lehigh Valley Transit Co., 360 Pa. 1, 6, 59 A.2d 900......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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