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Guenther v. Armstrong Rubber Co. - 406 F.2d 1315 (3d Cir. 1969)


A party is regarded as not bound by his own testimony where there is contradictory evidence or circumstances which the trier of facts might fairly believe.


Plaintiff Guenther was a mechanic who was employed by Sears Roebuck & Company at its place of business in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. On May 21, 1965, Guenther was in the process of putting four summer tires on an automobile. As he was adjusting the fourth tire, it exploded and threw him about six feet away. He was unconscious for a few seconds. In November 1966, plaintiff’s expert examined the tire in Sears Roebuck manager’s office, the tire of which the manager had testified was on the machine and which he had brought to his office was a "white wall." However, Guenther testified that the tire he was mounting and which exploded was a "black wall." In denying the motion for a new trial, the trial judge specifically found as to the tire produced by Sears Roebuck manager. The judge therefore upheld his trial conclusion of a directed verdict in favor of the defendant Armstrong Rubber Company, a tire manufacturer.


By mistakenly offering testimony that the tire that had allegedly injured him was a “black wall,” should plaintiff’s case be summarily dismissed based on the theory that the plaintiff should be bound by his own testimony?




On appeal, the court reversed and remanded the directed verdict for the tire manufacturer. The court held that it was not the function of the district judge to conclude the mechanic's case based on such contradictory evidence. Such factual decisions were properly within the purview of the jury as the trier of fact. The mechanic's own evidence was obviously not a judicial admission. It was properly urged that his testimony was simply incorrect in some of its detail; that part of what he stated was adverse to his own interest and if inaccurate was so because he was factually mistaken. Thus, it did not call for the summary dismissal of his claim.

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