On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County.
[166 NJSuper Page 53] In this automobile negligence action a jury found defendant Marie A. Zec, now Marie A. Price, negligent and defendant Elizabeth E. Thompson free of negligence. By separate motions, plaintiff and defendant Marie A. Zec (now Price) sought a new trial. Both motions were denied. Plaintiff and Mrs. Price jointly appeal. They seek a reversal
and a new trial. They argue that the trial judge's instruction to the jury on the standard of care required of defendant Thompson immediately before the collision between her car and the car driven by Mrs. Price was "clear error and obviously prejudicial" to them. We agree.
The two-car collision occurred in the intersection of Evergreen Avenue and Cooper Street in Woodbury. At the trial defendant Thompson testified on direct examination that she was driving her car southbound on Evergreen Avenue intending "to make a left-hand turn" into Cooper Street; that she "was in the inner lane bearing for a left-hand turn" and that when the traffic light at the intersection turned green "and maybe three cars passed," she "tried to negotiate [her] left-hand turn." She stated:
The light had been green and I saw one car approaching slowly on the side of Hendrickson's Park, that is on Evergreen, and I thought I had time to negotiate the turn, and the car increased -- the approaching car [traveling north on Evergreen Avenue] increased its speed, and I stopped my car, and that is when the impact happened.
It is clear from her testimony on cross-examination that when the collision occurred she had already begun to make a left-hand turn and had moved a part of her car into the northbound lane. She stated that she "had left the white line and tried to make the turn," but "stopped immediately" when she saw she couldn't. She testified:
Q. Were you in the north bound lane when you stopped?
A. I had only turned slightly from the direction I was going.
Q. The front of your car was in the northbound lane when you stopped?
A. A very small part of it; yes.
Q. Just the left side of your car would be in the ...