On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Case, Heher, Wachenfeld and Ackerson. For reversal -- Justices Oliphant and Burling. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.
The judgment entered pursuant to a jury verdict in an automobile negligence case is the subject of attack in this appeal brought here by the granting of the defendant's petition for certification.
The three plaintiffs were passengers in a cab owned by the defendant and driven by its employee. At about 3:15 on the morning of May 4, 1947, the cab was crossing the Delaware River Bridge from Camden going west toward Philadelphia. It was struck on the left-hand side by an eastbound station wagon which thereafter struck another car. The station wagon had been stolen and after the second crash its driver disappeared and has not been apprehended.
As a result of the collision, the defendant's cab ended up astride the middle of the bridge partly in the westbound lane and partly in the eastbound, with its headlights still lighted.
Two of the plaintiffs, Meloni and D'Alesandro, got out of the cab and stood with the driver on the eastward or Camden side of it. The third plaintiff, Vadurro, had been knocked unconscious by the impact and remained in the cab. A police officer came along in a jeep and, seeing the wrecked car, parked his jeep in the eastbound lane about fifty or sixty feet on the Philadelphia side of the cab and lighted the flashing blinker signal on top of it to warn eastbound traffic.
The driver and the two plaintiffs had been standing outside the cab for three to five minutes when an eastbound Chevrolet came along, ignored the warning of the police jeep and crashed into the cab, impelling it against the two plaintiffs, who were thrown to the ground.
Several actions were originally instituted by these plaintiffs. In their suit against the owner and driver of the Chevrolet, they took a voluntary dismissal, and an action against two others, whose participation in the events complained of is not shown in the record, was dismissed on motion. The two remaining suits, brought against the present defendant, were consolidated for trial.
The cause was tried before a jury and resulted in a verdict of $3,500 in favor of the plaintiff Vadurro, $200 in favor of Meloni and $100 in favor of D'Alesandro. The case was appealed to the Appellate Division, which affirmed the judgment, and then certified here.
The defendant urges error in the denial of its motion for judgment made at the close of the plaintiffs' case and again at the close of the defendant's case. It also urges error in the court's charge to the jury and the refusal to permit the introduction of certain evidence, and claims the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence.
The first ground advanced for reversal relates to the occurrence of the second accident in which the eastbound Chevrolet struck the cab as it stood astride the traffic lanes. The defendant asserts there was no causal connection between the first and second accidents and no proof of any ...