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McCray v. Chrucky

Decided: March 2, 1961.


Goldmann, Foley and Halpern. The opinion of the court was delivered by Foley, J.A.D.


This appeal is taken by Ciampi from judgments entered against him on jury verdicts returned in the Law Division in favor of McCray and Chrucky.

The actions arose out of an automobile accident which occurred at the light-controlled intersection of High and West Kinney Streets in Newark, New Jersey, on December 20, 1957 at about 4:00 P.M.

Miss McCray was a passenger in a taxicab owned and operated by Ciampi. According to her, Ciampi had been proceeding south on High Street and, upon reaching West Kinney Street, brought his cab to a stop preparatory to making a left turn. The light was green for traffic going north and south. The driver "started up" and had gotten half way through his turn when the cab was struck by the Chrucky car, which was being driven northerly on High Street. This car, said Miss McCray, was almost a block away while Ciampi was still standing, and as he moved ahead was "coming pretty fast."

Ciampi's version of the happening was virtually the same. He added that he had come to a stop to permit several

northbound vehicles to pass, and then turned slowly with his directional signals flashing. He said that at this time the oncoming vehicle was still 150 to 200 feet distant, and he testified that he had completed the turn when the cab was struck.

Chrucky, obviously under a language handicap, testified that as he was passing through the intersection on a green light he suddenly stopped, having seen the taxicab "maybe half car" distant. The collision followed immediately.

Charles A. Peters, a bus driver, testified that he was proceeding easterly and brought his bus to a stop at the southwesterly corner of the intersection to pick up three passengers; the light then was green for eastbound traffic. While the bus was standing this light turned red, after which the taxicab proceeding east on West Kinney Street "shot" by the left side of the standing bus, entered the intersection on the red light, and collided with the northbound Chrucky car.

Dominic D. Franchino testified that while he was seated in a taxicab which was facing west at the northeasterly corner, awaiting the turn of the light from red to green for westbound traffic, he observed the Ciampi taxicab proceeding south on High Street stop at the intersection, prior to making a left turn. After three or four northbound cars passed, the Ciampi vehicle started to turn. He then saw Chrucky's car travelling northerly skid into the rear of the taxicab.

Holding Ciampi to be solely responsible for the accident, the jury returned a verdict of $17,000 against him on the McCray action, one of $1,500 in Chrucky's favor, and no cause of action on Ciampi's suit against Chrucky. The grounds of appeal urged by Ciampi are: (1) errors in the court's charge requiring reversal and error in refusing to charge certain requests of defendant; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to strike the testimony of Dr. Josephus C. Carr, Miss McCray's treating physician; (3) Miss McCray

failed to sustain the burden of proof of a causal relationship between the accident and her claimed injuries; (4) it was error to permit the jury to view a verified statement filed by McCray in a prior county district court action which, unknown to counsel, contained an ad damnum clause; (5) Chrucky was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law; (6) remarks made in summation by Chrucky's attorney were improper and prejudicial. We will treat with these grounds seriatim.


The trial court charged the jury that in the event of recovery by plaintiff, McCray would be entitled to damages for any "aggravation, acceleration or exacerbation" of a pre-existing condition, disease or injury from which she may have been suffering. It is beyond dispute that since a party is entitled to recover damages for all of the adverse effects upon his well being which naturally flow from the negligence of another, such damages include those for the aggravation, acceleration or exacerbation of a pre-existing injury or disease. Appellant does not question this, but urges that in the particular circumstances of this case plaintiff was debarred from such recovery, because neither in the pleadings, interrogatory answers, or pretrial order, nor at the trial, did she ...

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