Phoenix Baking Company v. Vaught

Decision Date06 March 1945
Docket NumberCivil 4655
PartiesPHOENIX BAKING COMPANY, an Arizona Corporation; LESTER P. STEWART, Appellants, v. MILTON B. VAUGHT, Appellee
CourtArizona Supreme Court

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Pima. Evo DeConcini, Judge.

Judgment affirmed.

Messrs Knapp, Boyle & Thompson, for Appellants.

Messrs Krucker, Fowler & Dodd, for Appellee.

Morgan J. Stanford, C. J., and LaPrade, J., concur.


Morgan, J.

The plaintiff brought this action to recover for personal injuries and damages to his automobile sustained in a collision with the corporate defendant's truck, being then operated by its employee, the individual defendant. Briefly the facts are as follows:

About two o'clock on the afternoon of October 3, 1940, plaintiff was driving his Chrysler coupe north on the six-lane paved highway known as South Sixth Avenue in Tucson, to the rear of defendant Phoenix Baking Company's delivery truck, also being driven north in the center northbound traffic lane by defendant Stewart. This highway is the main traffic artery to Tucson from the south. The traffic on the road was heavy. The truck driver slowed down between street intersections in order to turn across the street to the left, to reach the bakery plant entrance on the west side of the road. In the process of turning he stopped the truck to permit southbound cars to pass. The left front wheel was apparently at or just over the center line of the road. The truck blocked the traffic lane in which both it and plaintiff's car were traveling. The speed of both vehicles was reasonable, approximately between twenty to twenty-five miles per hour. The plaintiff's car collided with the right rear end of the truck. He suffered personal injuries in and about head, chest and knee, and sustained substantial damage to his car.

The evidence pertaining to the responsibility for the collision was conflicting. The plaintiff's testimony and evidence was to the effect that the truck driver failed to signal for the turn and stopped abruptly. The defendants' evidence, on the other hand, indicated that the driver signaled for the turn, looked into his rear view mirrors, and came to a slow stop, and that at least one car pulled out to the right to pass the truck before the collision. The cause was tried before a jury which found in plaintiff's favor a verdict of $ 1400, and judgment was so entered. Defendants appear here as appellants, the plaintiff as appellee. They will be referred to respectively as defendants and plaintiff.

On this appeal no claim is made that the judgment is not supported by the evidence. The assignments of error pertain only to the admissibility of testimony and to the giving and refusing of instructions. The questions raised will be considered in the order of presentation by the defendants.

Defendants complain that the court erred in allowing plaintiff to testify over their objection to his estimated loss of bonuses or commissions for the months of October, November and December, 1940, the period for which he was incapacitated. There is no claim or showing that the verdict was influenced by this testimony. For aught that appears other elements of damage are sufficient to sustain the judgment. It is not urged that the verdict is excessive nor that without this testimony the judgment could not be sustained. In view of this we might well pass this assignment under the rule of harmless error in the admission of evidence. Jacobson v. Laurel Canyon Min. Co., 27 Ariz. 546, 234 P. 823; Kirkland v. Spriggs, 19 Ariz. 425, 171 P. 992; Arizona Superior Min. Co. v. Anderson, 33 Ariz. 64, 262 P. 489; Southern Lumber Co. v. Green, 186 Ark. 209, 53 S.W.2d 229; Trumpfeller v. Crandall, 130 Me. 279, 155 A. 646; Maryland Cas. Co. v. Sweek, 28 Ariz. 258, 236 P. 720.

However, since the parties, and the plaintiff particularly, have argued the question at some length, we will consider the matter as properly for our determination. The plaintiff, a traveling salesman, in addition to a regular salary, was allowed a bonus or commission on his sales exceeding a certain quota. His regular salary was paid while he was incapacitated. Over objection of the defendants he was allowed to testify to estimated losses for bonus or commission which he fixed at approximately $ 200 per month. Plaintiff's testimony disclosed that he had been employed for several years as the territorial manager of a national livestock feed concern and that his average commissions in past years for the months mentioned were approximately $ 200 per month. He estimated his loss of commissions for the three months involved at $ 500. We can find no merit in defendant's contention that this testimony should have been excluded as a mere estimate or conjecture based upon conclusions concerning plaintiff's salesmanship and the state of the market. The estimate is in no way speculative, but on the contrary is based on the record of prior earnings. The testimony showed these commissions to result from the personal efforts of the plaintiff. They were earnings to the same extent as a salary would be.

The rule to be adduced from the authorities is that in a tort case, the plaintiff for personal injuries is entitled to show the amount of money he might reasonably have earned, during the period of his incapacitation, by the pursuit of his ordinary occupation. If his earnings or a part of them are through commissions or fees for personal services, the average of such earnings may be shown as affording a basis for estimation of damages for loss of time. Bonneau v. North Shore R. Co., 152 Cal. 406, 93 P. 106, 125 Am. St. Rep. 68; Simmons v. Leighton, 60 S.D. 524, 244 N.W. 883; Strickland v. Davis, 221 Ala. 247, 128 So. 233; Chesapeake & O. Ry. Co. v. Shanks, 260 Ky. 416, 86 S.W.2d 128; Galveston, H. & S. A. Ry. Co. v. Mallott (Tex. Civ. App.), 6 S.W.2d 432.

We think it unnecessary to consider the second assignment of error relating to testimony of a back entrance to the bakery. We believe the evidence was properly admitted. In any event, we do not see how the jury could be prejudiced by this proof. The jury knew that whether there was a back entrance or not, the driver of the truck was under no compulsion to make a left-hand turn between intersections to reach the front entrance. He could always, by turning at an intersection, drive his car on the bakery side of the street, and make a right-hand turn to gain the entrance.

The third and fourth assignments present the principal issue on this appeal. They will be considered together. The defendants urge that the court committed error in refusing to give their instruction number three, as requested, and in giving of the "extra precaution" rule announced by this court in McIver v. Allen, 33 Ariz. 28, 262 P. 5. We quote defendants' requested instruction:

"You are further instructed that there is no statute in the State nor any rule of law prohibiting the driver of a truck from turning from the street, either to the left or to the right, to enter private premises, whether such entry is made in the middle of the block or at an intersection. The only requirement of law in such case is that a driver use ordinary care under all circumstances, which means such care as an ordinary prudent person would exercise under like or similar circumstances in making such turn."

The court struck out from line two the phrase "nor any rule of law" and the latter part of the instruction beginning with the words "The only requirement." The instruction, as modified, was given by the trial judge, following which he read to the jury Section 66-111, Arizona Code Annotated 1939. This section as applicable here provides:

"The driver of any vehicle upon a highway before starting, stopping or turning from a direct line shall first see that such movement can be made in safety; . . . whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement he shall give...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 cases
  • Werthan Bag Corp. v. Agnew, 11578
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • February 4, 1953
    ...1132; Midland Valley R. R. Co. v. Hoffman Coal Co., 91 Ark. 180, 120 S.W. 380. A good illustrative case is Phoenix Baking Company v. Vaught, 1945, 62 Ariz. 222, 156 P. 2d 725, wherein it was held and authorities were cited to the effect that the past performance of an injured person, togeth......
  • Tyler v. Drennen
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 1, 1951
    ...impose a duty to use extra precaution upon a person making a left-hand turn between intersections. In the case of Phoenix Baking Co. v. Vaught, 62 Ariz. 222, 156 P.2d 725, 728, the Supreme Court of Arizona had before it a statute apparently identical with the Alabama statute. The court amon......
  • Dickson v. Queen City Coach Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 2, 1951
    ...N. C. R. R. Co., 104 N.C. 442, 10 S.E. 552; Leave v. Boston Elevated Railway Co., 306 Mass. 391, 28 N.E.2d 483; Phoenix Baking Co. v. Vaught, 62 Ariz. 222, 156 P.2d 725. 'The element of loss of time is held properly to include only such loss as has accrued up to the time of trial; a subsequ......
  • Fisher v. Reilly
    • United States
    • Oregon Supreme Court
    • March 7, 1956
    ...appellants' machine thereby acquired such benefit as would attach to the enjoyment of the right of way. * * *' In Phoenix Baking Co. v. Vaught, 62 Ariz. 222, 156 P.2d 725, 728, plaintiff collided with the rear of defendant's car when defendant stopped preparatory to a left turn to a private......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT