Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ballou v. Henri Studios, Inc. case brief

Ballou v. Henri Studios, Inc. case brief summary
656 F.2d 1147 (5th Cir. 1981)

Defendants sought review of a decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas excluding results of plaintiff's deceased's blood alcohol test from evidence and entry of jury verdict against defendants for negligence and plaintiff cross-appealed jury verdict denying damages for decedent's conscious pain.

Plaintiffs were representatives of deceased driver and passenger whose vehicle collided with defendants' truck. At trial, the court excluded blood alcohol tests indicating driver was intoxicated at time of accident, holding the probative value outweighed the danger of unfair prejudice. The jury returned a verdict holding defendants 55% negligent after resubmission of case. No damages were awarded for passenger's conscious pain and suffering.


  • The reviewing court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for a new trial holding where trial court discounted the probative value of the test results and excluded them from evidence, jury was denied right to weigh and credit evidence. 
  • Where the potential for unfair prejudice did not substantially outweigh the test's probative value and tests reflected upon contributory negligence issue, exclusion was improper. 
  • The court affirmed the verdict denying damages for conscious pain and suffering where evidence supported verdict.
The reviewing court affirmed jury verdict denying pain and suffering damages where evidence supported verdict and reversed and remanded for a new trial where court excluded evidence of decedent's intoxication, denying jury opportunity to weigh and credit evidence of decedent's contributory negligence.

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