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Hampton v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co.

Decided: May 17, 1935.

LULER HAMPTON, ADMINISTRATRIX AD PROSEQUENDUM OF CHARLES HAMPTON, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY AND LLOYD C. STEWART, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS; HERBERT CLEMENT, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY AND LLOYD C. STEWART, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from the Supreme Court.

For the respondents Richard J. Mackey.

For the appellants, Wall, Haight, Carey & Hartpence.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. Case No. 24 (Hampton v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. et al.) is a representative suit under our Death act. Pamph. L. 1913, ch. 287, p. 586; Cum. Supp. Comp. Stat. 1911-1924, pp. 927, 928. During the trial of this cause the judge permitted the witness, George F. Salter, an insurance actuary, to testify from mortality tables, the authenticity of which is not challenged (Notto v. Atlantic City Railroad Co., 75 N.J.L. 826), as to the expectancy of life of the deceased and his widow. There was no objection to this testimony. The trial judge also permitted the same witness, over objection and exception, to testify as to the expectancy of life of the three children of the decedent and widow, who were of

the ages of sixteen, fourteen and twelve years, respectively. The testimony was that the expectancy of life of these children, based on the mortality tables, was in the order of their ages above stated, forty-four and three-tenths, forty-five and seven-tenths and forty-seven and three-tenths years, respectively.

Appellants urge, but offer no authority in support thereof, that the admission of this testimony constituted reversible error. We do not think so.

It is fundamental that evidence is admissible when it is relevant, material and competent. Apfelbaum v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, 12 N.J. Mis. R. 62; 169 A. 677.

In the case of Camden and Atlantic Railroad Co. v. Williams, 61 N.J.L. 646, this court considering the propriety of the admission of the Carlisle Table of Mortality, held that standard mortality tables may be used, in a judicial proceeding, to aid in determining the probable duration of human life; that they do not furnish an absolute rule of computation; they, however, may help to form the judgment. But the authenticity of the mortality table used must be established by competent evidence. Notto v. Atlantic City Railroad Co., supra. And this court in the case of Dickerson v. Mutual Grocery Co., 100 N.J.L. 118, by Mr. Justice Parker, extended the admissibility of mortality tables ("Carlisle Table of Mortality" and the Chancery table based thereon), to damage suits at law, in other than those involving death, and where the probable duration of life of a living plaintiff is a factor in the appraisal of damages, subject, however, to proper precautionary instructions, i.e., explanation and limitation of the evidential force and value of such testimony, by the trial judge to the jury. Again, this court in Auer v. Sinclair Refining Co., 103 Id. 372, by Mr. Justice Trenchard, held (at p. 375):

"* * * in a damage suit at law the rule is that an expert witness may make use of the Carlisle table of mortality for the purpose of showing the average expectancy of human life, or the present value of the alleged loss of income based on

that expectancy, when [as here] such matters are factors in the appraisal of damages. Camden, &c., Railroad Co. v. Williams, supra; Notto v. Atlantic City Railroad Co., supra; Dickerson v. Mutual Grocery Co., supra; Steinbrunner v. Pittsburgh, &c., Railroad Co., 146 Pa. St. 504; Shover v. Myrick, 4 Ind. App. 7." Compare Apfelbaum v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, supra; Hendershot v. New York, ...


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