Panichella v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company, No. 12810.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMcLAUGHLIN, KALODNER and STALEY, Circuit
Citation268 F.2d 72
PartiesNicola PANICHELLA v. PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellant WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES, INC., Third-Party Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. 12810.
Decision Date12 June 1959

268 F.2d 72 (1959)

Nicola PANICHELLA
v.
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellant
WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES, INC., Third-Party Defendant.

No. 12810.

United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit.

Argued May 5, 1959.

Decided June 12, 1959.

Rehearing Denied July 14, 1959.


268 F.2d 73

John David Rhodes, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Pringle, Bredin & Martin, Pittsburgh, Pa., on the brief), for appellant.

James P. McArdle, Pittsburgh, Pa. (John A. DeMay, Gene K. Lynch, Pittsburgh, Pa., on the brief), for plaintiff-appellee Nicola Panichella.

J. Lawrence McBride, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson, Pittsburgh, Pa., on the brief), for appellee Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

Before McLAUGHLIN, KALODNER and STALEY, Circuit Judges.

STALEY, Circuit Judge.

The question posed by this appeal is a narrow one. Is a clear and precise release executed by a railroad employee discharging a named party and all other persons, firms and corporations of and from any and all claims, demands, rights and causes of action whatsoever arising by reason of a specific accident effective to bar the employee's action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C.A. § 51 et seq., against his employer-railroad for damages sustained in the same accident described in the release?

Plaintiff, Nicola Panichella, brought the action below under the FELA against the defendant-railroad to recover damages for injuries sustained when he fell upon a public sidewalk in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on December 14, 1950. The railroad filed an answer and joined as third-party defendant Warner Brothers pictures, Inc., the owner-occupant of the property adjoining the sidewalk upon which the accident occurred.

Plaintiff was employed by the railroad as a trackman and on December 13, 1950, reported for work at 7:00 a. m. During the day he was assigned to sweeping switches clean of the snow that covered the area. There had been a recent snowfall that, combined with the accumulation from a severe snow storm of a few weeks earlier, necessitated overtime work. As a result of his seniority, plaintiff was given an opportunity to volunteer for overtime work, which he did. Following his second eight-hour shift, the plaintiff continued to work up until the time the accident occurred at approximately 7:00 a. m. December 14, 1950. The railroad supplied plaintiff an evening meal at the Palace Restaurant and a packaged lunch which he ate during the night of December 13.

The following morning at about 7:00 a. m. plaintiff was directed to return to the same restaurant, about a mile distant from his place of work, for the purpose of having breakfast and bringing back lunch for himself and his foreman. To reach the restaurant he had to walk through a public park and along public sidewalks. While en route plaintiff slipped and fell on the sidewalk abutting the Warner property. The condition of the sidewalk was variously described as rough ice topped with light snow; ice in ridges, wavy-like and a little rough; and as covered with a very thin slush. There had been some overnight snowfall.

The injury sustained by the plaintiff was a transverse fracture of the first lumbar vertabra. Hospitalization for about a month followed, and plaintiff remained in a body cast for twelve weeks. He lost about six months employment as a result of the injury and upon return to his former work claimed residual pain. At the time of trial plaintiff was 65 years of age.

268 F.2d 74

Prior to the institution of the instant action, plaintiff engaged an Irwin, Pennsylvania, attorney to represent him. The attorney negotiated a settlement with The Travelers Insurance Company, liability carrier for Warner. The settlement called for payment of $1,375, and prior to execution of the release it was explained to plaintiff by his attorney. It was executed on October 28, 1952, twenty-two months after the accident. The railroad paid none of the consideration for the release, and was not a party to it, nor in fact was it aware of the settlement until November 4, 1952.

At the trial, both the railroad and the third-party defendant relied upon the release, which is set forth in the margin.1 After some deliberation, the trial court concluded that the release was clear and unambiguous and to be construed as a matter of law, and the jury was never advised of its existence. The court denied the railroad's motion for directed verdict. The jury returned special findings as...

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28 practice notes
  • Montgomery County v. Valk Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 6 Septiembre 1989
    ...1145 (N.D.Ga.1969); Panichella v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co., 167 F.Supp. 345, 352 (D.Pa.1958), rev'd in part aff'd in part on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3rd Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 (1960); Lawrence v. Great No. Ry. Co., 98 F.Supp. 746 (D.C.Minn.1951),......
  • Bonar v. Hopkins, Civ. A. No. 68-444.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 17 Abril 1969
    ...gave effect to the release to exculpate the liability of a stranger to its negotiation and execution. Panichella v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 268 F.2d 72 (3 Cir. 1959), rev'g 167 F.Supp. 345 (W.D.Pa.1958). Since the release is clear and unambiguous, the rule of construction urged in Mayle v. Cri......
  • Youell v. Maddox, Civ. A. No. 86-300-JLL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • 11 Julio 1988
    ...common law joint tortfeasor against whom injured party had no right of recovery due to contributory negligence), rev'd on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3d Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 Similarly, a court denied contribution on grounds other than lack of co......
  • Svetz for Svetz v. Land Tool Co.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 24 Julio 1986
    ...130 (1974). See also: Panichella v. Pennsylvania[355 Pa.Super. 238] Railroad Co., 167 F.Supp. 345 (W.D.Pa.1958), rev'd on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3d Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 (1960); Massachusetts Bonding & Insurance Co. v. Car & General Insuranc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • Montgomery County v. Valk Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 6 Septiembre 1989
    ...1145 (N.D.Ga.1969); Panichella v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co., 167 F.Supp. 345, 352 (D.Pa.1958), rev'd in part aff'd in part on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3rd Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 (1960); Lawrence v. Great No. Ry. Co., 98 F.Supp. 746 (D.C.Minn.1951),......
  • Bonar v. Hopkins, Civ. A. No. 68-444.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 17 Abril 1969
    ...gave effect to the release to exculpate the liability of a stranger to its negotiation and execution. Panichella v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 268 F.2d 72 (3 Cir. 1959), rev'g 167 F.Supp. 345 (W.D.Pa.1958). Since the release is clear and unambiguous, the rule of construction urged in Mayle v. Cri......
  • Youell v. Maddox, Civ. A. No. 86-300-JLL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • 11 Julio 1988
    ...common law joint tortfeasor against whom injured party had no right of recovery due to contributory negligence), rev'd on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3d Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 Similarly, a court denied contribution on grounds other than lack of co......
  • Svetz for Svetz v. Land Tool Co.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 24 Julio 1986
    ...130 (1974). See also: Panichella v. Pennsylvania[355 Pa.Super. 238] Railroad Co., 167 F.Supp. 345 (W.D.Pa.1958), rev'd on other grounds, 268 F.2d 72 (3d Cir.1959), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 (1960); Massachusetts Bonding & Insurance Co. v. Car & General Insuranc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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