On appeal from the Supreme Court.
For the plaintiff-appellant, Kellogg & Chance (R. Robinson Chance, of counsel).
For the defendant-respondent, Coult, Satz, Morse & Coult (Joseph Coult, of counsel).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
McGEEHAN, J. Plaintiff appeals from a judgment in favor of the defendant, Crown Oil Corporation, entered in the Supreme Court upon nonsuit at the Passaic circuit. Plaintiff sued Crown Oil Corporation and Chester W. Langton to recover damages for personal injury sustained by him when struck by an automobile driven by the latter. Langton was not served with process and the case proceeded to trial against Crown Oil Corporation.
The accident in question happened on Plaza Road, Fairlawn, Bergen County, at about 7:50 A.M. according to one witness, and between 8:15 A.M. and 8:30 A.M. according to another. Langton lived on Plaza Road about eight to ten blocks away from the intersection of Plaza Road and Route 4, about which intersection several stores and shops were grouped, including a barber shop. He owned the car involved,
and the accident happened as he drove it from his home along Plaza Road toward the intersection of Plaza Road and Route 4. After the accident, he continued driving until he reached the intersection, when he parked his car in front of the stores, and he was arrested as he left his car to go to the barber shop. He was examined by Dr. Brennan at Fairlawn police head-quarters at 9:00 A.M. and found to be "under the influence of intoxicating liquor, not in a fit condition to drive a car."
Langton's home in Fairlawn was about nineteen miles from the office and yard of his employer, Crown Oil Corporation, at Harrison, New Jersey. He had been credit manager for Crown for four years and his duties were to investigate the affairs of prospective customers; to arrange with existing customers as to credit relations, and to protect the accounts receivable of the Crown Oil Corporation. Such credit transactions extended over the territory within a twenty-five mile radius of the office in Harrison. He had been accustomed to use his car in and about his duties as credit manager whenever required, and he stated that such occasions occurred about three times a week. The officers of the Crown Oil Corporation knew that he so used his car on company business, and while no specific arrangement was made as to gas and oil, his car was furnished with gas and oil at the yard of the Crown Oil, without cost. He also used his car to go between his home and the Crown Oil office. Prior to the accident, he had driven his car 9,000 miles on company business. He was not required to report to the office in the morning before he started work; he worked whatever hours were necessary -- sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night; there was no restriction on the hours during which he was to perform his duties. The nature of the work was such that he would start the day's work sometimes without first going to the office; at other times he would go to the office and thereafter make visits from the office during the day. Crown Oil furnished him with no other means of transportation for performing his duties.
The only testimony concerning the purpose which actuated Langton in making the trip during which the accident happened was given by him as follows:
"Q. What time of the day was that? A. As I recollect, approximately ...