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Jackson v. Magnavox Corp.

Decided: June 25, 1971.

WILLIAM JACKSON, ADMINISTRATOR AND ADMINISTRATOR AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF EAULA MAE JACKSON, DECEASED, AND ESTHER MAE ELLIOT, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
MAGNAVOX CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, AND MERIT TRANSPORTATION CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, ET AL., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS



Conford, Kolovsky and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conford, P.J.A.D.

Conford

[116 NJSuper Page 3] In these seven actions consolidated for trial plaintiffs were passengers (and the administrators ad prosequendum of two deceased passengers) in a car driven by defendant Powers which collided on the night of January 8, 1966 with an unlighted trailer parked on a Jersey City street near the New Jersey Turnpike overpass. As a result three passengers were injured and two were killed. A number of actions were brought on behalf of the injured

passengers and by the administrators ad prosequendum. There were also cross-claims by defendants.

Southern Railway Corporation had general possession of the trailer under a lease. Several weeks before, the trailer had been involved in the following transportation operation. Goods of defendant Magnavox, a manufacturer, were shipped from Tennessee to Garden City, New York. Magnavox hauled the loaded trailer with its own tractor from its plant near Morristown, Tennessee, to the Morristown loading point of Southern Railway. The trailer was carried by that railroad "piggy-back" on a flat-car to Alexandria, Virginia. Thence it was hauled by one of the tractors of defendant Merit, an interstate common carrier, to the Teterboro, New Jersey plant of Magnavox. Magnavox, in turn, using its own tractor, brought the loaded trailer to Garden City where it was unloaded. Magnavox then brought the empty trailer back to its Teterboro yard on December 23, 1965. There is no further direct evidence of the trailer's peregrinations until Powers ran into it while it was parked as aforesaid several blocks from the Merit place of business in Jersey City on January 8, 1966, with the consequences noted above. Merit took responsibility for claiming and repairing the trailer after it was notified of the accident.

Plaintiffs recovered negligence verdicts of liability against Powers, Merit and Magnavox. The issue of damages was deferred. There were special verdicts by the jury that Merit and Magnavox had each caused the vehicle to be parked on the street; that each was negligent; and that such negligence was a substantial factor in causing the collision. Motions by defendants Merit and Magnavox for a new trial or for a judgment n.o.v. in their favor were denied. Those defendants appeal.

There was evidence of a written lease of the trailer from Southern Railway to both Merit and Magnavox pursuant to which both undertook to return the trailer to Southern Railway at Alexandria. There was other evidence, written and oral, reflecting upon the obligations of the defendants

Merit and Magnavox to Southern Railway in respect of the trailer which need not be recounted for present purposes.

The proofs show frequent prior shipments of goods by Magnavox using Southern Railway facilities and Merit common-carrier services. There were variable practices in respect of returning empty trailers used for Magnavox shipments to Southern Railway, to other customers of Southern Railway, or to the Merit yard. Most often Merit did this but on occasion Magnavox did.

I

We find no error in relation to the introduction into evidence of certain Jersey City ordinances regulating parking of vehicles and the court's permitting the jury to consider violation thereof as evidence of negligence. We find the ordinances sufficiently germane to the hazards involved in the instant accident to justify their submission to the jury.

II

There is no merit in the contention that defendants Merit and Magnavox were entitled to judgment or to a new trial on the asserted ground that the negligence of defendant Powers ...


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