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Rivera v. Hancock

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 28, 1955

George RIVERA and Mary Rivera, husband and wife, Appellants,
E. V. HANCOCK and Jean Hancock, husband and wife, Appellees.

Page 200

[79 Ariz. 200] V. L. Hash, Phoenix, for appellants.

Shimmel, Hill & Hill and Harry J. Cavanagh, Phoenix, for appellees.

[79 Ariz. 201] UDALL, Justice.

The plaintiffs, George Rivera and Mary Rivera, his wife, brought this action against defendants E. V. Hancock and Jean Hancock, his wife, to recover damages in the aggregate sum of $55,000 for personal injuries they allegedly sustained in a collision with defendants' car. The case was tried to the court, sitting with a jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants and judgment was entered thereon; motion for new trial was made and denied and this appeal followed. Plaintiffs appear

Page 201

here as appellants, the defendants as appellees, but they will be referred to as plaintiffs and defendants.

The scene of this unique accident is difficult to describe in words and may best be visualized by a diagram thereof which we have had prepared from exhibits in evidence:

(Image Omitted)

[79 Ariz. 202]

Page 202

While there was a sharp conflict in the testimony as to certain vital points we will follow the accepted procedure on appeal and state the substance of the evidence in a light most favorable to sustaining the verdict and judgment. On the morning of August 31, 1951, shortly before 8:00 a. m., plaintiff George Rivera was driving his automobile, a 1934 Ford V-8 Sedan, from his home at 3302 West Jefferson Street, in Phoenix, Arizona, to his place of employment at Reynolds Aluminum Plant. He was accompanied by his wife (seated on his right), who intended to drive the car back home. At about the same hour, defendant E. V. Hancock, driving his 1951 Studebaker Champion car, was taking his wife Jean to her work at the same plant, an industry employing 1200 to 1800 persons.

The diagram heretofore shown discloses that the two parallel roads of ingress and egress to the Reynolds Plant, if projected would bisect at a 45-degree angle the intersection of 35th Avenue-which runs north and south-and of Van Buren Street-which goes east and west. At this point five-way traffic control signal lights are installed. There was testimony that at 8 a. m. (and other times of change of shift) this area was a 'bee hive' of activity with pedestrians and cars moving in and out on the roads leading to the plant.

Defendant E. V. Hancock had driven in the ingress road to the front of the Administration Building, where he let his wife out of the car, and was then proceeding northeasterly on the egress driveway en route to the Van Buren-35th Avenue intersection when the collision occurred. Hancock claimed he was proceeding on a green signal light.

Just immediately prior thereto the plaintiffs were proceeding north on 35th Avenue and had come to a complete stop at a point 100 feet south of the intersection of this Avenue and Van Buren Street. According to plaintiffs' evidence, when the green signal light appeared they, in accordance with custom, turned left from the point where they had stopped in an are movement which would lead them into the ingress road. (No one going north on 35th Avenue intending to go into the Reynolds Plant would first drive into the intersection, as such an operation would require making a U turn.) Plaintiffs' movement necessitated traversing not only the west portion of the right of way of 35th Avenue but also the paved area on the Reynolds property used by 'out-going' traffic from the private driveway.

It is to be noted that both drivers claim they were proceeding on a green signal light. Obviously both cannot be right as these overhead traffic lights, installed by the Maricopa County Highway Department, were so arranged that when the green 'go' signal was on for travel on 35th Avenue, there would be a red 'stop' signal on both Van Buren and the diagonal egress road leading from the plant; likewise when the egree road had a 'green' light, the control [79 Ariz. 203] lights for both Van Buren and 35th Avenue would show 'red'.

The defendants' right bumper, grille and right fender struck the left side of plaintiffs' car near the left front door. The point of impact was some few feet (10 or more) from the northeast corner of the rounding 6-inch concrete curb marking the boundary of the 'island', which is a raised 20-foot grass strip between the two driveways. Manifestly the accident did not occur within the 66-foot-square quadrangle comprising the intersection proper of 35th Avenue and Van Buren Street. Rather it was on Reynolds private property. Defendant Hancock admitted that he was driving at a speed of 25 to 30 m. p. h. when he first observed the plaintiffs' car. He immediately applied his brakes and the tires left 27 feet of skid marks on the pavement. The defendants' car came to a complete stop at the point of impact whereas plaintiffs' car, which ...

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