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02/16/67 Josephine M. Pulvari, v. Greyhound Corporation

February 16, 1967

JOSEPHINE M. PULVARI, APPELLANT

v.

GREYHOUND CORPORATION, APPELLEE 1967.CDC.35 DATE DECIDED: FEBRUARY 16, 1967



UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

APPELLATE PANEL:

Fahy, McGowan and Tamm, Circuit Judges. McGowan, Circuit Judge (concurring). Tamm, Circuit Judge (dissenting).

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE FAHY

In the District Court appellant, referred to as plaintiff, sued Greyhound Corporation, appellee, defendant, for damages due to injuries received when she was a passenger in one of defendant's buses traveling south toward Washington on the Washington-Baltimore Parkway. This is a four-lane highway. Two lanes are for southbound traffic, well separated from two lanes for northbound traffic.

The accident occurred about 3:30 a.m. in the following circumstances. Traveling directly ahead of the bus in the same direction was a truck. Desiring to pass this truck, the driver of the bus turned it to the left into the eastern of the two southern lanes. An automobile, referred to as the Pontiac, was traveling north in this lane, where it had no right to be. The bus and Pontiac collided. The bus then appears to have gone out of control. According to the officer investigating the accident, it traveled sixty-four feet farther where it struck an overpass abutment. This was the impact which led to plaintiff's serious injuries.

There was evidence that the driver of the Pontiac was under the influence of alcohol. He and a passenger with him were killed.

The theory of plaintiff was that although the Pontiac was traveling north in a southbound lane, Greyhound was concurrently negligent because even if the bus were traveling below the speed limit, as the bus driver testified, its speed was unreasonable in light of the driving conditions. There was considerable testimony as to the weather, including some that it was raining, that the Parkway was foggy in places and the temperature below freezing. Plaintiff offered, unsuccessfully, reports of the United States Weather Bureau concerning contemporaneous weather conditions at Friendship Airport, two miles away. *fn1

In cross-examining plaintiff, counsel for Greyhound asked her about three pictures in evidence which showed that she was in a cast. He inquired who suggested taking the pictures. She replied to the effect that it was her former attorney Mr. Jacobs, and that the fees were being divided between him and trial counsel. Defendant's counsel then asked: "On [sic] what other fees did Mr. Jacobs participate in this case?" Counsel for plaintiff objected, urging that the question had "no bearing on this litigation." The court permitted the question to be answered as going "to the relationship between plaintiff and counsel and the circumstances under which this took place." Upon counsel pressing his objection, the court said, "The question is whether Mr. Jacobs had an interest in this case." From further discussion it appears the trial judge intended to admit only transactions with counsel "in connection with this case," yet he also explained that his ruling was liberal in order to permit development of "the whole relationship between the plaintiff and any of her attorneys." The clerk then read the question, "On what other fees did Mr. Jacobs participate in the case?" After the court said that an answer could be given "within the limits that the Court has announced," the following transpired:

The Witness: Well, as far as I can see, Mr. Jacobs already got two thousand and sixteen dollars for his legal advices.

[Defendant's Counsel]:

Q. Who did he get that from? A. That was the Davis case.

Q. It was what? A. It was the two cases were together, the Davis and Greyhound case. It was on file.

Q. And who is Davis? A. The man ...


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