Appellate Court Upholds Jury Verdict Won by Hunter, Smith & Davis Partners

March 2020

Partners Leslie T. Ridings and Caroline R. Williams won an appeal reported in February 2020 which upheld a jury verdict in a personal injury case. The plaintiff was jogging in the dark early one morning when she was struck accidentally by a car driven by the defendant. The plaintiff and her husband brought suit against the defendant in the Circuit Court for Hawkins County, asserting various claims including negligence. The matter was tried before a jury, with Ms. Williams and Ms. Ridings representing the defendant.   The jury found plaintiff to be 80 percent and defendant 20 percent at fault. Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. Plaintiffs appealed to the appellate court, arguing that the trial court failed to act as thirteenth juror and that the jury’s allocation of fault was unsupported by material evidence. Plaintiffs argued also that the jury was prejudiced against them for their being well-off out-of-towners. The appellate court found, first, that the trial court independently weighed the evidence and acted properly as thirteenth juror. The appellate court further ruled that the jury’s allocation of fault was supported by material evidence. Finally, the appellate court ruled that plaintiffs’ claim of jury prejudice was speculative.   The “Day on Torts” blog, published by the Law Offices of John Day, P.C., writes about the case in a post titled, “Runner Hit by Car Found 80% at Fault.” Attorney Day writes, “This was a very fact specific case, and apparently defense counsel did a good job of using the evidence to paint a picture of the accident for the jurors.” Click on the link to read the full story.

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