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Schneider v. Rutherford Taxi Service Inc.

Decided: April 24, 1944.

FRED SCHNEIDER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RUTHERFORD TAXI SERVICE, INC., WILLIAM MARTIN AND WILLIAM F. FREED, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from the Bergen County Court of Common Pleas.

For the plaintiff-appellee, West, Hein & Wittman (Edward O. West, of counsel).

For the defendants-appellants Rutherford Taxi Service, Inc., and William Martin, Reginald A. Creighton and John C. Grimshaw (David E. Feldman, of counsel).

Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justices Bodine and Colie.

Brogan

The opinion of the court was delivered by

BROGAN, CHIEF JUSTICE. The plaintiff recovered a judgment for personal injuries in the Bergen County Court of Common Pleas against all three defendants, the Rutherford Taxi Service, Inc., William Martin and William F. Freed. The two first named defendants have appealed from the judgment and that appeal is before us. The third defendant, Freed, has not appealed. At the time plaintiff was injured he was a passenger for hire in the car of the Rutherford Taxi Service, Inc.; defendant Martin was the driver of the car.

The appellants urge that the court erred (1) in declining to enter judgment of nonsuit on their motion; (2) in rejecting

a motion for a direction of verdict for these two defendants. A further argument is made for reversal on the ground that the verdict of $5,000 is excessive and resulted from mistake, passion, prejudice or partiality. The last ground may not be entertained as a reason for reversing the judgment on appeal. If the verdict was faulty in any of the particulars mentioned it should have been reviewed by a rule to show cause before the trial court.

The testimony in the case discloses that the plaintiff, en route to work, became a passenger of the Rutherford Taxi Service, Inc., at about 5:30 A.M. on March 22d, 1942. The morning was dark, the weather inclement. In the course of the journey the car came to an "intersection" of River Road and Park Avenue in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. It is not an intersection in the ordinary sense. River Road runs north and south and Park Avenue runs into River Road from the southeast and then converges with it without crossing it at any point. The taxi, with the plaintiff as passenger, had come from a southerly direction on Park Avenue intending to enter River Road and continue thereon to the south. The defendant, Freed, was driving his automobile in a northerly direction on River Road and intended to turn into Park Avenue. He did not succeed in making the turn properly. The result was that his car smashed into the right front side of the taxi.

The plaintiff, in his testimony, was able to offer very little information on what occurred except the bare happening of the accident.

To the questions propounded to him by his attorney, he replied that he thought the cab in which he rode had "very dim lights;" that the weather was dark and drizzling; that he saw "no part of the accident;" that after the happening he found himself lying in the back of the car, dazed and bleeding. On cross-examination he stated his opinion to be that the driver, Martin, was operating the taxicab carefully; that he did not know whether or not the taxi stopped at the intersection before entering River Road or whether the ...


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