Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Davidson v. Prince case brief

Davidson v. Prince case brief summary
813 P.2d 1225 (Utah App. 1991)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant challenged denial of his motion for a new trial by the Fourth District Court, Utah County (Utah), after a jury found appellant 40 percent contributorily negligent in his personal injury action against appellees.

CASE FACTS
Appellant was injured when a cow or steer charged him. The animal had escaped from a truck that had been negligently overturned by appellee employee. There was conflicting evidence whether appellant was partly responsible for his injuries.

DISCUSSION

  • The jury concluded appellant was 40 percent contributorily negligent; denial of appellant's motion for a new trial was affirmed. 
  • First, while the court agreed that it had been erroneous to instruct the jury on the tax consequences of a personal injury award, under the facts of this case such error was harmless. 
  • Second, it was proper to not permit appellant's expert to testify as to his opinion whether appellee was negligent, as a determination of negligence is a legal conclusion, not an ultimate issue of fact. 
  • Finally, a letter written by appellant supporting the contributory negligence claim was properly admitted, as contrary to appellant's argument the letter was not a settlement offer.

CONCLUSION
Denial of new trial motion affirmed, since while it was erroneous to instruct jury on tax consequences of a personal injury award, such error was harmless here. Also, it had been proper to prevent appellant's expert from testifying as to his opinion whether appellee employee was negligent.

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