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Runnacles v. Doddrell

Decided: February 1, 1960.

HARRY RUNNACLES AND LOUISE RUNNACLES, HIS WIFE, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
GRACE DODDRELL AND KENNETH S. DODDRELL, HER HUSBAND, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Gaulkin, Sullivan and Foley. The opinion of the court was delivered by Foley, J.A.D.

Foley

[59 NJSuper Page 364] Appeal is taken by defendants from an adverse jury verdict entered in the Law Division.

Both plaintiffs suffered personal injuries when the vehicle owned and operated by Harry Runnacles was in collision with the Doddrell car. The limited scope of the appeal makes it unnecessary for us to recite the facts in detail.

The first point made by appellants is that the court erred in denying a motion for mistrial after mention by a witness of the words "insurance company." It appears that James Wilson when called as a witness by the defendants testified that he had reported the accident to the police by telephone. He also testified to facts concerning the operation of plaintiffs' car shortly before the accident from which the jury might have inferred that the driver was negligent. On cross-examination he was asked whether he had reported these facts to the police during the telephone conversation; he replied that he had not. The following then took place:

"Q. As a matter of fact, you never told the police up to this very day about the happening by the dumps, about the car pulling out in front of you, the green Packard, did you?

A. I told Chief Geffken.

Q. When did you tell him? Now, isn't it a fact --

Mr. Connolly: Let him answer, you have asked him a question.

Q. When did you tell him?

A. It was sometime after the accident.

Q. Isn't it a fact that it was only within the past several weeks that the Chief found out that you had this information that you speak of?

A. What was that?

Q. Isn't it a fact that the Chief only found out within the past few weeks about this information ...


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