You’ll Get Nothing and Like It!

It is a classic line in the movie Caddyshack, but it quickly sums up the end result in this case too.  This is a two car, intersection case in which both drivers sought damages from the other.  After a two day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding both the plaintiff and the defendant 50% at fault.   Plaintiff filed a motion for new trial which was denied.  An appeal followed.

The following relevant facts were established at trial:

1.     Plaintiff was traveling south on U.S. 11-E with the intention of turning right on Allison Road.

2.     Defendant was traveling north on the same highway with the intention to turn left on Allison Road.

3.     As each driver made their respective turns, the vehicles collided.

4.     The defendant testified she came to a complete stop at the intersection because although the light was green she did not have the left turn arrow.

5.     While the defendant acknowledged she had a duty to yield, she made her turn because she did not see the plaintiff’s vehicle until the impact.

6.     The defendant denied telling the investigating officer that she was at fault for the accident.

7.     The investigating officer testified the plaintiff’s vehicle (the one turning right) sustained damage to the front driver’s side.  The defendant’s vehicle sustained damage to the “back toward the rear right side”

8.     Plaintiff testified she never saw the Defendant’s vehicle until the accident.

9.     While the plaintiff thought she was in front of the defendant’s car, she could not reconcile the physical damage to the vehicles.

On appeal, the plaintiff asserted the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence and the trial court abused its discretion by limiting the testimony of the investigating officer.  Defendant countered that the appeal was frivolous and sought attorney fees.

The Court of Appeals reviewed the record to determine whether it contained material evidence to support the jury’s verdict.  Since both parties had the green light and neither party saw the other before the turn, the Court of Appeals concluded there was material evidence for the jury to conclude each party was equally at fault.  As for the investigating officer’s testimony, the Court of Appeals could not find any instance in the record where the trial court, in fact, limited his testimony. Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded, as it was their discretion to do, that the appeal was not frivolous.  As such, there was no award of attorney fees.   Another round and another proclamation of you will get nothing and like it.

This is the right result – no hamburger, no cheeseburger, no hotdog, no milk shake and no potato chips.   Salyer v. Linnen, No. E2013-01546-COA-R3-CV (Tenn Ct. App. May 6, 2014).  And no verdict.