Friday, October 19, 2012

Upchurch v. Rotenberry case brief

Upchurch v. Rotenberry (2000)
761 So. 2d 199

Procedural History
•    Appellant mother of decedent challenged the judgment of the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court (Mississippi), entered in favor of appellee alleged negligent driver and denying appellant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or for a new trial in appellant’s personal injury action.
Legally Significant Facts
•    Decedent was a passenger in appellee’s vehicle. Decedent was killed when the vehicle was involved in an accident. Appellant brought a personal injury action against appellee, alleging that she was speeding, driving recklessly, and intoxicated. The trial court found for appellee; the court affirmed.

•    The resolution of disputed facts is a duty that rests upon the jury sitting as finders of fact.

•    An appellate court will not intrude into the realm of the jury by determining the credibility of a witness and making findings of fact. The jury is the judge of the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses.
•    The burden of proof here rests on the plaintiff.
•    The jury is the judge of the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. The demeanor or bearing, the tone of voice, the attitude and appearance of the witnesses, all are primarily for inspection and review by the jury. The jury not only has the right and duty to determine the truth or falsity of the witnesses, but also has the right to evaluate and determine what portions of the testimony of any witness it will accept or reject; therefore, unless it is clear to an appellate court that the verdict is contrary to the overwhelming weight of the credible testimony, this court will not set aside the verdict of a jury.
•    In determining whether a jury verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, an appellate court must accept as true the evidence which supports the verdict and will reverse only when convinced that the trial court has abused its discretion in failing to grant a new trial.

•    Judgment affirmed because it was reasonable for the jury to believe appellee’s testimony regarding the course of events leading up to the automobile accident given that conflicting evidence was presented at trial.

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