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02/09/76 ALSTON v. TYE

February 9, 1976

ALSTON
v.
TYE



Appeal from Wayne, Roland L. Olzark, J.

Bronson, P. J., and Bashara and M. F. Cavanagh, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Trial -- Judges -- Jury Verdict -- Unclear Verdict.

A trial Judge has the obligation to ascertain the real verdict of a jury where the foreman's statement of the jury's decision is not clear.

2. Jury -- Jury Verdict -- Negligence -- No Cause of Action.

A jury finding, in an action for damages for negligence, that the defendant was responsible for the accident but that the plaintiff had not shown any damages constitutes a finding of no cause of action.

3. Appeal and Error -- Judgment -- Jury Verdict -- Intent of Jury.

The Court of Appeals may order an entry of judgment consistent with the intent of a jury where that intent is clear from the record.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bronson

Complaint by Lorraine F. Alston and J. C. Allen against Madison Tye, Floyd Hill, Jr., and Joseph W. Hill, jointly and severally, for damages resulting from an automobile accident. Judgment for plaintiffs, but no damages awarded to plaintiff Alston. Plaintiff Alston appeals.

Plaintiffs instituted suit against defendants in Wayne County Circuit Court to recover for injuries allegedly resulting from an automobile accident. After a full trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff J. C. Allen for $375, but awarded plaintiff Lorraine Alston no damages. Mrs. Alston appeals from the order of judgment entered pursuant to that jury verdict.

This cause of action arises out of a three-car accident occurring on the snowy night of November 15, 1969. Mrs. Alston slowed down and then stopped her car, owned by plaintiff J. C. Allen, to avoid a previous accident. Her car was struck from behind by an automobile being driven by defendant Tye. The Tye automobile was in turn struck from behind by the Hill car.

A large part of the trial testimony centered around the timing of this sequence of collisions. Tye claimed that he was pushed into plaintiffs' car after the Hill car ran into his vehicle, and that he otherwise would have been able to safely stop. The Hills contended that the Tye automobile had already collided with plaintiffs' car when their car struck the rear of the Tye car. Finally, Mrs. Alston and her passengers testified that their car was first struck by the Tye vehicle, and was struck for a second time as that middle car was pushed into them by the Hill car.

Plaintiff Lorraine Alston testified as to injuries to her neck and back resulting from the accident, and called a chiropractic physician who had treated her to verify the existence and cause of those injuries. The damage to the automobile owned by J. C. Allen was stipulated by the parties to be $375.

The personal injury claims of Mrs. Alston were vigorously contested by defendants. Their own medical expert testified that he could find no objective evidence of any injury to plaintiff. Several weaknesses in the story told by Mrs. Alston were emphasized: that she had made no mention of any injury when she took her injured passengers to the hospital; that the small amount of damage to her automobile was not consistent with her claim of intense stress upon her neck during the collision. Finally, defendants brought out that Mrs. Alston had ...


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