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Ryan v. Port of New York Authority

Decided: September 22, 1971.

GEORGIANA RYAN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX AD PROSEQUENDUM OF THE ESTATE OF RAYMOND M. RYAN, DECEASED, AND CORDELIA RYAN, AN INFANT BY HER GUARDIAN AD LITEM, GEORGIANA RYAN, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS AND CROSS-APPELLANTS,
v.
THE PORT OF NEW YORK AUTHORITY, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT AND CROSS-RESPONDENT, AND PATRICK M. J. MALONEY AND BONITAS YOUTH SERVICE, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS



Kilkenny, Labrecque and Lane. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lane, J.A.D.

Lane

Plaintiff Cordelia Ryan, an infant, recovered a judgment against defendants for her personal injuries in the amount of $13,800. Plaintiff Georgiana Ryan recovered a judgment for medical expenses of Cordelia Ryan and for loss of services against defendants in the amount of $3,100. She further recovered a judgment as administratrix of her husband's estate in the amount of $150,000.

The complaint was based upon an automobile accident that occurred January 27, 1967 at approximately 1.20 P.M. between an automobile being operated by Cordelia Ryan in a westerly direction on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge and a Ford Econoline van motor vehicle owned by defendant Bonitas Youth Service, Inc. and being operated by its agent, defendant Maloney, in an easterly direction. As a result of the accident Raymond M. Ryan, Cordelia's father and a passenger in the automobile, sustained injuries that resulted in his death. Cordelia Ryan sustained serious personal injuries. Plaintiffs contended that the Port Authority was negligent "in permitting vehicles of the type operated by defendant Maloney on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge at the time of the accident due to weather conditions involving rain, wet and slippery road surfaces and extremely high, stormy winds."

Defendant Port of New York Authority appeals alleging that the trial court erred (a) in denying its motion for a judgment of dismissal at the close of plaintiffs' case in that plaintiffs failed to prove that the Port Authority was negligent in allowing co-defendant Maloney's vehicle to traverse the George Washington Bridge; (b) in denying the Port Authority's motion for judgment of dismissal in that plaintiffs failed to prove that the Port Authority had notice of hazardous wind conditions before the accident, and (c) in admitting into evidence testimony that the bridge was closed to van vehicles 50 minutes after the accident as well as two other dates after the accident. Plaintiffs cross-appeal, alleging that it was error to remove from the case the issue of negligence of the Port Authority based upon the failure to post warning signs.

I

A

The Port Authority recognizes that it was under an obligation to exercise reasonable care in its operation of the George Washington Bridge. Cf. Monaco v. Comfort Bus Line, Inc. , 134 N.J.L. 553 (E. & A. 1946); McCabe v. N.J. Turnpike Auth. , 35 N.J. 26 (1961). It argues:

To establish a standard of reasonable care, plaintiffs introduced into evidence a memorandum dated February 1, 1966 from Captain Robert Friend, in charge of the George Washington Bridge for the Port Authority, which set forth a guide for determining when the bridge should be closed to certain vehicles such as the Ford Econoline van. The memorandum stated in part:

This memo will serve as a guide for determining when certain type vehicles should be barred from using the George Washington Bridge.

1. When wind velocity exceeds 30 miles per hour.

2. When such winds blow in a north and south direction with respect ...


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