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WILLARD C. BEACH AIR BRUSH CO. v. GMC

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


February 20, 1950

WILLARD C. BEACH AIR BRUSH CO.
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION et al.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: FAKE

The issues here arise on motions to vacate and set aside an order or judgment of this court entered in the above entitled cause on the 9th day of June, 1948.

The trial of this cause of action was opened to the court and jury on the 30th day of October, 1947, and continued thereafter ending on the 13th day of November, covering some 5 or 6 days of actual trial when a mistrial was declared.

 Prior to the opening of the trial, counsel for plaintiff, in the presence of the counsel for defendant, made known to the court that the plaintiff, Mr. Beach, suffered with a very uncommon malady, technically known as hypoglycemia, which means a low blood sugar. This disease is said to be the opposite of diabetes in that the one so afflicted suffers with a lack of sugar in his blood, while in diabetes there is an excess of sugar. It was explained at this time that Mr. Beach would be obliged to eat candy and keep a lollypop in his mouth while on the witness stand. If he did not continue to supply sugar to his system in this way he would suffer a collapse or perhaps a heart attack. The record before me discloses that every reasonable deference was shown to Mr. Beach by reason of his ailment, and with the consent of counsel, the jury was advised as to his unusual ailment.

 On the 31st day of October, 1947, Mr. Beach took the witness stand and for several days thereafter underwent direct examination by his counsel. At about noon on the 5th day of November, 1947 Mr. Carpenter, of counsel for defendant, commenced the Cross-examination of Mr. Beach. This lasted for the balance of the day.

 The next morning Mr. Beach failed to appear for continuation of cross-examination. Plaintiff's counsel then produced Dr. Hoyer who, being sworn as a witness, testified concerning the ailment of Mr. Beach whom he had treated since the year 1937. He saw Mr. Beach at ten o'clock in the morning just before coming to court. He found him in bed with 'blood pressure 120 over 70 * * * in a nervous state. His heart was palpitating. He seemed very much disturbed; * * * had a lollypop in his mouth trying to get as much sugar as he could in his system. * * * Question: Does he get any attacks in that condition or any collapses? A. Yes, he has. Q. Have you seen him in these? A. Yes, I have.' The doctor then proceeded further, stating that it would be entirely possible that Mr. Beach would suffer with such attacks if the case was called for trial in the future, and he could not say that if an adjournment were taken until the following Monday Mr. Beach would be in shape to testify. He did definitely state that he could not be in condition to proceed the next day.

 When the court convened the next morning Mr. McGeehan, representing the plaintiff, moved for a mistrial on the ground of the disability of Mr. Beach. The motion was granted.

 Thereafter a short conference took place between the court and counsel, and the court suggested that perhaps a settlement might be made in view of all the circumstances.

 Nothing further was brought to the attention of the court for many months or until the 7th day of June, 1948 when a rule to show cause was made returnable why an accord and satisfaction should not be entered.

 On that day I received a letter from Mr. Beach which I brought to the attention of counsel in which he expresses 'deep appreciation of the considerations shown me by your Honor and to confirm my full confidence in the impartial justice governing the court's rulings.' He makes reference to his incurable malady and states, 'It was only the refusal of my body to comply with my will that prevented my appearance to my everlasting humiliation and regret.' He states that he is still personally unable to appear in court and that, to quote: 'I have asked the attorney who has represented me in a Chancery matter involving the attempt of the former Mrs. Beach to obtain funds from me to appear in my behalf, and Mr. Howard Demarest will represent me on a proceeding before you.' The letter is too long to set up here in full. He does admit in this letter signing the releases in issue and indicates a desire not to abide the result thereof, explaining that he was ill when he signed them. Nothing in the letter disclosed to the court anything indicating a disordered mind or a failure to comprehend the effects of his acts.

 On the 8th of June, 1948, one day before the entry of the order herein complained of, Mr. Beach wrote a letter to his attorney, Mr. Brown, in which he says: 'This will be your authority to request that checks in settlement of the above matter be drawn and delivered to you as follows: Check to the order of: Willard C. Beach Air Brush Co. in the sum of... $ 1,000.00 Check to the order of: Willard C. Beach, individually, in the sum of... 13,000.00 Check to the order of: John W. McGeehan, Jr. & Leonard B. Brown, to cover costs, fees, and disbursements in connection with the preparation and trial of the above case, in the sum of... 11,000.00 In the Presence of Very truly yours, R. M. Atwater, Jr. Willard C. Beach Dorothy M. Geiger Individually, and as President of Willard C. Beach Air Brush Co."

19500220

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



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