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Dunnill v. Bloomberg

Decided: March 29, 1962.

DUNNILL
v.
BLOOMBERG



Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas; Warnken, J.

Brune, C. J., and Hammond, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Brune, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Brune

The plaintiff appeals from a judgment for the defendant entered upon the verdict of a jury in favor of the latter.

This is a somewhat unusual boulevard intersection automobile accident case. The plaintiff was driving south in the City of Baltimore on Reisterstown Road, a through highway; the defendant was driving west on an intersecting, unfavored street, Springhill Avenue. There was a boulevard stop sign

facing the defendant on the east side of Reisterstown Road. His view of traffic on the boulevard as he approached the intersection was obstructed by parked automobiles on Reisterstown Road. There is a conflict of evidence as to whether the defendant did or did not stop at the stop sign. Whether he did or not, he proceeded into Reisterstown Road far enough, "a few feet," to see beyond the parked cars before he could get a view of southbound traffic on that street. It was after that he says he first saw the plaintiff's car coming south. He did not give any estimate of the then distance between the two cars, doubtless because, as he admitted after the accident, he "did not see" the plaintiff. We take this to mean that he did not see him until just before the accident.

The plaintiff's testimony is that he was about fifty feet north of the intersection when he saw the defendant's car either stopping or moving very slowly. Then as the plaintiff continued on to about twenty or thirty feet north of the intersection he saw the defendant's car proceeding out into the intersection. The plaintiff veered to the right to avoid a collision; the defendant stopped at about the middle of the street and no collision between the two cars occurred. The plaintiff's car, however, struck a curb as he veered to avoid the defendant's car, was badly damaged and turned around, and the plaintiff was injured.

The accident happened at about 6:10 P.M. on October 12, 1958. There was still daylight, dusk was coming on. The plaintiff's speed was variously estimated as from 25 to 35, possibly 36 or 37 miles an hour. The speed limit on Reisterstown Road was 30 miles an hour. At the intersection here in question Reisterstown Road had two lanes for northbound and two lanes for southbound traffic, not, however, divided by any median strip.

The plaintiff requested a number of instructions, one of which was "that the right of way to all traffic on the thru highway or boulevard makes it the duty of every driver approaching such a highway * * * to stop and yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching thereon and that under the facts submitted in this case the defendant is clearly liable." The

court denied the requested instruction and gave quite a different one as to the duties of one entering a through highway. This was, in effect, that an unfavored driver's entry upon a part of the through highway, following a stop, would not be a violation of the duty to yield the right of way, if such entry could be effected with safety and not "in such a way as to create the impression on the one who is moving on the through highway that he [the unfavored driver] is going to cross the through highway and thereby get in front [of] or interfere with the driver who is on the through highway, and * * * has the right-of-way." With this as a part of the instructions the court submitted the issues of the defendant's negligence and of the plaintiff's contributory negligence to the jury. The verdict, as stated, was in favor of the defendant.

We think that the learned trial judge was in error in refusing the plaintiff's requested instruction above stated. It amounted to a request for a directed verdict which embodied requests for instructions both that the defendant was guilty of negligence and that the plaintiff was free of contributory negligence. Green v. Zile, 225 Md. 339, 345, 170 A.2d 753. The prayer may not have been in the best of form, but we think it was sufficiently clear to apprise the trial judge of what was requested. See Green v. Zile, supra, 225 Md. at 345; Simmons v. Smith, 202 Md. 367, 96 A.2d 480; Union Mining Co. v. Blank, 181 Md. 62, 28 A.2d 568; Rinehart v. Risling, 180 Md. 668, 26 A.2d 411; Clautice v. Murphy, 180 Md. 558, 26 A.2d 406. There is no question here that damages were caused by the accident. A request for a directed verdict for a plaintiff (as well as for a defendant) on any one or more issues is authorized by Maryland Rule 552 a if the circumstances are such as to permit of only one inference with regard to any such issue. Garozynski v. Daniel, 190 Md. 1, 57 A.2d 339 (peremptory instruction that the plaintiff was not ...


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