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Desantis v. Lange

Decided: August 9, 1948.

ANTONIO DESANTIS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM J. LANGE, TRADING AS WM. J. LANGE CONTRACTING CO., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



For the plaintiff-respondent, Alfred M. Cozzi.

For the defendant-appellant, Autenrieth & Wortendyke (Reynier J. Wortendyke, Jr., of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine and Jacobs.

Jacobs

The opinion of the court was delivered by

JACOBS, J. This is an appeal in a negligence action from a judgment of the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas in favor of the plaintiff-respondent.

On January 20th, 1943, the plaintiff's employer, Corn Products Refining Company, engaged the defendant to transport a 3 1/2 ton lift truck from its plant in Edgewater to its plant in Ridgefield. The defendant dispatched a truck and driver who, after arriving at the Edgewater plant, backed the truck to a loading platform on which the lift truck stood. Thereupon the plaintiff and a fellow employee placed a steel checker plate so that it served as a bridge from the platform to the truck. Although the defendant's driver came equipped with wooden chocks for placement under the wheels of the truck, he did not use them.

The testimony on behalf of the plaintiff indicated that the defendant's driver, having climbed out of his truck, motioned and said to the plaintiff, who was ready to operate the lift truck, that he should come ahead. The plaintiff then proceeded to operate the lift truck in first speed from the platform across the checker plate and on to the defendant's truck. When the front wheels on the lift truck were on the defendant's truck the latter moved, throwing the plaintiff to the ground under the lift machine and severely injuring him. He was taken to a hospital and was treated thereafter by several doctors over a considerable period of time.

In 1944, the plaintiff instituted his action claiming that he had been permanently injured as a result of the defendant's negligence and, in due course, the matter came on for trial before the Hudson County Court of Common Pleas. During the trial there was considerable testimony, in addition to that relating to the happening of the accident, by physicians as to the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. Much of this testimony was devoted to establishing that the accident was the producing cause of the plaintiff's present osteoarthritic condition or spondylitis which disables him from working.

After having denied the defendant's motions for nonsuit and directed verdict, the court submitted the issues of negligence, contributory negligence, and damages to the jury which returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Thereafter, the defendant obtained a rule to show cause why a new trial should not be granted assigning, as one of his reasons, that "the verdict rendered upon the trial of this case resulted from mistake, passion or prejudice on the part of the jury." The trial court discharged the rule to show cause upon the plaintiff's acceptance of a reduction in the amount of his verdict, which has been done.

In support of his appeal the defendant urges that error was committed (1) in rulings on the admission of evidence, (2) in the trial court's charge, and (3) in the denial of the defendant's motions for nonsuit and directed verdict.

I.

The evidential rulings complained of admitted the following testimony on re-direct examination of physicians ...


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