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Larry v. Matthew Roberts

April 16, 2013

LARRY HANSEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MATTHEW ROBERTS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. William H. Woodland, Senior District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Chief Justice

2013 Opinion No. 47

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

District court decision on jury trial, affirmed.

This is an appeal from the Bonneville County district court by Larry Hansen (Hansen). Hansen was involved in an automobile accident with the respondent Matthew Roberts (Roberts). At trial, Hansen sought to recover damages for his injuries and Roberts sought to recover property damage for his vehicle. The jury found Hansen to be 90% at fault and awarded Roberts damages for his vehicle. Hansen now appeals the Bonneville County district court's decision to allow Roberts's experts, an accident reconstructionist and a biomechanical engineer, to testify. Hansen also appeals the district court's ruling that he waived his objections to Roberts's deposition testimony. Finally, Hansen appeals the district court's decision to grant Roberts's motion in limine so far as it limited him from asking whether prospective jurors or one of their family members were or had ever been employed by an insurance carrier.

1

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Hansen and Roberts were in a car crash that caused injuries to Hansen and property damage to Roberts's vehicle. Hansen was making a right hand turn into a business parking stall when Roberts hit the passenger side of his vehicle while attempting to pass Hansen on the right.

On May 26, 2009, Hansen filed a complaint against Roberts to recover damages for the injuries he sustained in the car accident. Three months later Roberts filed a small claims complaint for the damage to his car. Pursuant to a stipulation between the parties, these two matters were consolidated into one case.

A jury trial was held on October 19, 2010. Hansen was able to present his entire case on this first day of trial. After the conclusion of the first day of trial, Roberts received news that a matching liver had been found for him. The court continued the trial and the second day of trial was held on December 15, 2010. Because of Roberts's condition following the transplant, he was not able to appear in court and the parties arranged to have his trial testimony videotaped. Both parties made objections during Roberts's testimony, which were included on the video with the understanding that the court would rule on these objections before trial. On the second day of trial, Hansen moved to raise the objections he made in Roberts's deposition testimony before the video was played for the jury. The court concluded that Hansen had waived these objections by not presenting them at the pretrial conference when the court addressed Roberts's objections. Hansen also sought to exclude Roberts's expert testimony from Scott Kimbrough, an accident reconstructionist, and John Droge, a biomechanical engineer, as untimely and insufficient. The court heard argument from both parties and ruled that the experts would be allowed to testify.

Following trial, the jury returned a verdict finding both parties at fault and attributing 90% of the negligence to Hansen and 10% of the negligence to Roberts. The trial court then entered a judgment awarding Roberts $3,399.14 in damages.

II. ISSUES ON APPEAL

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by allowing Roberts to introduce expert testimony from an accident reconstructionist and a biomechanical engineer.

2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by ruling that Hansen waived the right to object at trial to the introduction of portions of Roberts's deposition.

3. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by partially granting Hansen's motion in limine to limit references to ...


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