Freund, Proctor and Rogers. The opinion of the court was delivered by Proctor, J.A.D.
Plaintiffs appeal from an adverse judgment entered upon a verdict in the Superior Court, Law Division, in a negligence action arising out of a collision between an automobile owned and operated by the defendant Parker, and an automobile owned and operated by the plaintiff Ciardella, in which plaintiff Louise Carbone was an occupant. Ciardella sued for damages for the repairs to his automobile, and Louise Carbone sought damages for personal injuries sustained by her.
There was a sharp conflict in the testimony as to the cause of the collision. Plaintiffs' theory was that their car was
parked off the highway when defendant's car struck the rear of the Ciardella car. On the other hand, defendant contended that Ciardella suddenly backed his automobile into the highway from a driveway, striking defendant's vehicle.
The plaintiffs advance three grounds for reversal of the judgment against them: (a) the examination of the witness Hannold constituted harmful error; (b) the court erred in its charge; (c) the court erred in its refusal to charge as requested.
Hannold, chief of police of the municipality where the collision occurred, was called as a witness for the defendant. After asking the witness to identify himself and also bringing out that he had been subpoenaed by the plaintiffs (but not called by them), defendant's attorney, over objection, was permitted to show the witness a written statement. Hannold testified that the statement contained his signature. Over objection, the witness was allowed to read the statement to himself, after which he testified as to the position of the cars when he arrived at the scene of the collision. The witness was then interrogated by defendant's attorney:
"Q. Now, Officer Hannold, did Mr. Ciardella make any statement to you?
"A. Sir, not that I recall."
Defendant's attorney thereupon pleaded surprise and asked permission to cross-examine the witness, which the court granted. The examination continued:
"Q. Did you on October 28, 1948, make the statement that I permitted you to read a few minutes ago?
"A. Yes, sir, that is my handwriting there and my signature."
After a colloquy between the court and counsel, the ...