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Conklin v. Miele''s Motor Transportation Inc.

Decided: February 5, 1957.

GEORGE A. CONKLIN, ADMINISTRATOR AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF FLORENCE N. CONKLIN, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MIELE'S MOTOR TRANSPORTATION, INC., AND HENRY TALIAFERRO, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. MARION D. IRSIG, AN INFANT, BY HER GUARDIAN AD LITEM, CHARLES IRSIG, AND CHARLES IRSIG AND REGINA IRSIG, EACH INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. MIELE'S MOTOR TRANSPORTATION, INC., AND HENRY TALIAFERRO, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. AMY WILSON, GENERAL ADMINISTRATRIX, AND AMY WILSON, ADMINISTRATRIX AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF RICHARD R. WILSON, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, V. MIELE'S MOTOR TRANSPORTATION, INC., AND HENRY TALIAFERRO, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

[43 NJSuper Page 422] The unfortunate disaster to which this litigation relates occurred at about 1:30 P.M. on June 17, 1954 in North Brunswick Township, Middlesex County. It

was indubitably occasioned by negligence. Its injurious consequences were pathetic. The occurrence was a violent collision between two motor vehicles, one of which was occupied by teenagers.

It was a bright and sunny day of unimpaired visibility. Milton Phillips, Jr., 19 years of age, had been accorded the use of his father's Ford passenger car. His companions in the vehicle were Marion Irsig, 15 years old, Richard Wilson, 16 years old, and Florence Conklin, 15 years of age. The young people, all in the gleeful season of life, departed from New Brunswick and were proceeding easterly on a public road known as Adams Lane in North Brunswick Township at its intersection with State Highway Route No. 130. At that locality Route 130 is a level, straight, concrete highway consisting of two lanes dedicated to northbound and two lanes to southbound vehicular traffic, with a grass-covered safety island of 15 feet in width separating the northbound and southbound lanes. There is an open margin in the island at the intersection to accommodate the passage of east and westbound vehicles on Adams Lane in crossing the state highway.

Coincidentally there was approaching the described intersection in a northerly direction on the east lane of the highway a tractor-trailer motor truck laden with 31,000 pounds of steel billets. The total weight of the tractor, trailer, and cargo was 58,000 pounds. The passenger car did not fully complete the crossing of the highway ahead of the heavily laden truck, which collided with the right side of the passenger vehicle at a point in the east lane of the northbound division of the highway.

The Conklin girl was instantly killed. The Wilson boy sustained injuries from which he died about one month later. The Irsig girl was very severely injured but survives. Phillips, Jr., seems not to have been acutely injured.

The prosecution of three actions for the recovery of compensatory damages ensued. The defendants designated in each were Milton Phillips, Sr., the owner of the Ford passenger car, Milton Phillips, Jr., its driver, Miele's Motor Transportation,

Inc., the owner of the tractor-trailer, and its servant, the operator, Henry Taliaferro. In one action the plaintiff is George A. Conklin, administrator ad prosequendum of the estate of Florence E. Conklin, deceased. In another Marion Irsig, an infant, and her parents, Charles and Regina Irsig, are the plaintiffs, and the third is prosecuted by Amy Wilson in her representative capacities as the general administratrix and administratrix ad prosequendum of the estate of the decedent Richard R. Wilson.

The actions were unitedly tried before the late Judge Smalley and a jury in the Law Division, Middlesex County. Judge Smalley exonerated the defendant Milton Phillips, Sr., from liability. The jury rejected the counterclaim of Taliaferro against Phillips, Jr., by a vote of 10 to 2, and returned unanimous verdicts against all of the defendants other than Phillips, Sr., in favor of the plaintiffs with the following awards respectively:

To administrator ad prosequendum of Conklin $17,500

To Marion Irsig 35,000

To Charles and Regina Irsig, parents ...


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