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Damages. Before Judge Henson. Fulton Civil Court. March 22, 1954.
Where, in an action for damages to a plaintiff's automobile which allegedly resulted from the negligence of one of the defendant's employees in servicing the plaintiff's automobile, the trial court, sitting without the intervention of a jury, is authorized to find from the evidence adduced on the trial that the defendant's employee, in changing the oil and the oil filter in the plaintiff's automobile, negligently fitted the gasket on the oil filter so as to permit four of the seven quarts of oil placed in the motor to escape; that to operate an automobile for a distance of one mile without oil in the motor would ruin it and that to repair such damage to the motor so caused would require replacing the rings, pin and connecting rod, and crankshaft, which would cost approximately $250; that the plaintiff had operated his automobile for a distance of approximately fifteen miles when the motor began to knock; that he immediately brought the automobile to a stop and observed that the oil pressure indicator showed that there was no oil pressure, and the oil stick, when placed in the motor at that time and place, indicated that there was no oil in the motor; that in automobiles of the type owned by the plaintiff, one of the seven quarts of oil which they normally carry always remains in the filter; that when four quarts of oil had escaped, one quart of the remaining three quarts was in the filter and the other two were in the oil pan of the motor; that with less than three quarts in the oil pan, the oil pump will not lubricate the motor; that the plaintiff operated his automobile without oil in the motor for a sufficient distance to cause the motor to start knocking and that this damaged his motor to such an extent that it will cost at least $250 to put it in the same condition that it was prior to the negligence of the defendant's employee in fitting the filter gasket; and that the employee's negligence was the proximate cause of the damage, a verdict for the plaintiff and against the defendant in the amount of $250 is authorized by the evidence. The trial court, consequently, did not err in denying the motion for new trial based upon the general grounds and two special grounds which are but elaborations of the general grounds. Powell v. Blackstock, 64 Ga. App. 442 (13 S. E. 2d 503).
The plaintiff, Robert L. Moye, brought an action for damages to his automobile in the amount of $333.25, against the defendant, B. C. Meadows, doing business as Meadows Sinclair Station. The material allegations of the petition as finally amended are substantially as follows. On or about May 31, 1953, the plaintiff delivered his 1949 Buick sedan automobile to the defendant for the purpose of having the oil changed in the vehicle, the chassis greased, and the gasoline tank filled. While the vehicle was being serviced by the defendant, the plaintiff requested that the defendant install a new oil filter cartridge. The oil filter and cartridge of the vehicle were attached to the motor block. When the plaintiff returned for his car, the defendant required that the plaintiff pay him for the aforementioned services and represented that his contract had been fully complied with and that the vehicle was in proper condition for the use for which it is intended. The plaintiff accepted the defendant's warranty that the services performed by the defendant on the car were properly performed and drove his vehicle a distance of approximately 28 miles. The plaintiff noticed that the engine of the car started to make considerable noise, and that a knock or dull thud appeared in the motor at this time. Promptly upon noticing the noise, the plaintiff brought the vehicle to an immediate stop, raised the hood of the car, and noticed that oil was gushing out from the oil filter. The oil was coming from around the top of the oil filter and it appeared that the oil filter had been improperly tightened. The plaintiff summoned a service-station employee, where the plaintiff had stopped his car. That employee raised the hood and checked the oil in the plaintiff's car and found it necessary to add four quarts of oil. Following the addition of the oil, the oil gauge on the car indicated that the oil capacity was sufficient. After replacing the aforementioned oil, the plaintiff immediately drove to the defendant's place of business and an employee of the defendant removed the top portion of the oil filter and found that the gasket which holds the oil in the filter when under pressure, was bent, cut, or otherwise mutilated, so as to render it incapable of retaining oil in the filter. Upon inspection by two automobile repair agencies, the plaintiff was advised that it would be necessary for him to replace the motor in the car at a cost of $333.25. The plaintiff advised the defendant how the damage had occurred immediately after the damage was noticed and the defendant told the plaintiff to drive the car a few days and then return it to the defendant if he had any further trouble. The plaintiff continued to drive the vehicle as requested by the defendant and the noise became worse. The plaintiff advised the defendant of the continuing noise in the motor, but the defendant stated that it was not due to his negligence and refused to reimburse the plaintiff for the damage sustained. All the damage to the plaintiff's car was proximately caused by the following acts of negligence on the part of the defendant: (a) In failing to install the oil-filter gasket properly, or failing to inspect the work of his employees; (b) In failing to check the oil-pressure system and the oil filter for leaks prior to delivering the car to the plaintiff.
Upon the trial of the case before a judge of the Civil Court of Fulton County, without the intervention of a jury, the judge found in favor of the plaiiitiff in the sum of $250. The defendant's motion for new trial, based on the usual general grounds and two special grounds, which are but elaborations upon the general grounds, was denied and he has sued out the present writ of error to have that judgment reviewed.
Edward T. Brock, contra.
Carter, Latimer & Savell, A. Ed Lane, for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 03:43 EDT

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