This is a suit in which plaintiff is seeking to recover damages allegedly sustained as the result of an automobile collision. The defendants are Midwest Dairy Products Corporation and its truck driver, one Murill O. Garner. After trial on the merits there was judgment in favor of plaintiff and against the defendants, in solido, in the total sum of $15,918.50, from which judgment defendants have appealed.
The accident occurred on June 22, 1950, at or about the hour of 6:15 a. m. at a point on U. S. Highway No. 80 some five or six
We find no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the above facts were definitely established. The testimony is conclusive on the point that the easterly hill, at or about the crest of which the collision took place, was a steep eminence which effectively masked any view by drivers of vehicles on one side of the hill from vehicles approaching from the other side. It is noted that the Midwest driver testified that he had a clear and unobstructed view of some 750 feet and that he saw the Temple car approaching for some considerable distance. The trial Judge in his opinion stated quite frankly that he did not believe this testimony. We are convinced that, under the circumstances, and in consideration of the nature of the terrain, it was impossible for this driver to have had a clear view of the approaching Temple car at such a distance. In any event, the acceptance of this testimony would but increase the gross negligence with which the Midwest driver has been charged.
In our opinion there is not the slightest question or doubt, under the established facts, as to the inexcusable negligence of the driver of the Midwest unit, which we hold to be the sole and proximate cause of the accident. Nor do we find any basis under the facts which would support the charge of contributory negligence against Temple.
The Midwest driver was attempting a passing operation, in itself a dangerous maneuver, at a point, the ascending slope of a blind hill, where such an operation violated not only highway regulations but every rule of ordinary reason.
"Doctor Bills $1113.00 St. Francis Sanitarium 385.00 Nurses 250.00 Ambulance 15.00 Partial loss of function of left arm 5000.00 Pain and suffering 20000.00 Disfiguration 5000.00 Loss of time 5000.00"
The District Judge awarded judgment in the total sum of $15,918.50, which was comprised of the following items:
"Doctors' bills 770.00 Nurses' bills 250.00 Ambulance bill 13.50 Sanitarium bill 385.00 Disfiguration 1,500.00 Partial loss or injury to the left arm 3,000.00 Pain and suffering 7,500.00 Loss of time 2,500.00"
Plaintiff's injuries comprehended a compound, comminuted fracture of the right femur, complicated fractures of the left radius and ulna, together with lacerations about the head and face, and general contusions.
Examination of the record discloses that adequate proof has been made of doctors, nurses, ambulance and sanitarium bills as itemized by the District Judge, with a minor adjustment on the sanitarium bill which is shown by the exhibit filed in evidence to have totaled $383.73.
In support of his allowance of $1,500.00 for disfiguration the District Judge observed that:
Our study of the record does not accord with this analysis of Dr. Rizzo's testimony. The only reference by this expert witness which we have been able to find is embodied in the following words of his testimony:
The doctor further testified that though there might be a "little correction" by plastic surgery he did not recommend it because he doubted that the amount of improvement would justify the procedure and expense.
There is no indication in the record that plaintiff contemplated seeking correction of the alleged disfigurement by plastic surgery, and, in the light of the testimony of his doctor above noted, it is questionable if such surgery would be practicable. For this reason we do not feel that we can allow any fixed sum for surgical attention which is purely speculative both as to actual performance and result. This reduces us to a consideration of the claim for damages for disfigurement. The testimony on this point is thoroughly unsatisfactory and inconclusive. The record contains no adequate description of the scars on plaintiff's face, and, indeed the testimony of plaintiff himself is devoid of any reference to the nature of his facial injuries. The only testimony which directly bears on this point was given by Dr. Rizzo as follows:
There would be no justification for a substantial award for damages on the basis of such vague, inconclusive and unsatisfactory evidence. Accordingly we think an allowance of nominal damages in the sum of $100 would be the most that might be expected.
The injury to the left arm, though serious and painful, has apparently left little permanent limitation of its use. The only resultant difficulty which will be experienced by plaintiff is the motion of turning the left hand at the wrist joint, which limitation was fixed at about 2% by the medical testimony. Plaintiff himself frankly and fairly testified that he could not say
Turning to a consideration of the allowance for pain and suffering we find that plaintiff was confined to the hospital for some two weeks following the accident; was forced to use a wheelchair for some five or six weeks, and thereafter found it necessary to use the aid of crutches for some five months. Plaintiff underwent three separate operations in the course of treatment and was subjected to the administration of a general anaesthetic on four occasions. Unquestionably the serious nature of the fractures sustained by plaintiff caused considerable pain and suffering during the process of treatment and the course of his convalescence. The only testimony as to pain and suffering was that of plaintiff himself and we quote below his complete testimony on direct examination which bears upon this item:
There is no satisfactory rule or measure by which courts are able, with any certainty or accuracy, to fix a proper
The final item claimed by plaintiff, and on which he was allowed the sum of $2,500 in the judgment below, relates to the alleged "loss of time". The only "loss of time" sustained by plaintiff was his enforced absence from his school work over a period of two semesters, that is, the summer and fall of 1950. Again, the only testimony on this point was that of plaintiff who testified that the effects of the injuries sustained in the accident delayed him one year in the completion of his college education "if everything had come as planned".
No effort was made by plaintiff or on his behalf to establish any real damage in this connection. There is no showing that plaintiff could or would have undertaken remunerative employment after his graduation, nor that he suffered any loss of prospective employment or opportunity therefor by reason of the enforced delay. Indeed, the fact of his graduation is purely speculative and subject to the qualification above noted in plaintiff's own words. In short, we have absolutely no basis upon which to make any award. Loss of time, per se, is not compensable unless it is directly connected with some loss of advantages, benefits or revenues which might have been produced by the profitable use and employment of such time. It follows that this item should be disallowed in its entirety because of lack of proof.
For the reasons set forth the judgment appealed from is amended by reducing the amount thereof to the sum of Six Thousand Five Hundred Seventeen and 23/100 ($6,517.23) Dollars, and, as amended, it is affirmed at appellant's cost.
McINNIS, Judge ad hoc, sitting.
KENNON, J., not participating.