In Boyles v. Dillards, Inc., the plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident when her vehicle partially collided with a delivery van that was owned and operated by Dillard's. Timothy Davis, a Dillard's employee, was driving the van at the time of the accident. During trial, there was no dispute that each driver was driving in the same lane of a two-lane highway. Davis was driving immediately behind the plaintiff when the accident happened. The evidence also showed that the Dillard's van struck the right rear corner of the plaintiff's car.
The plaintiff testified that she did not leave the lane in which she was traveling and that the van struck her car when she made a right turn into her driveway. According to Davis, the plaintiff left the lane in which she was traveling and merged into a gore that was on the left of the lane in which the cars were traveling. Davis then testified that the plaintiff abruptly directed her car back into the lane in which they were traveling and that he did not have enough time to avoid colliding with her vehicle.
The plaintiff sued Dillard's for damages. During the litigation, she brought a motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether she had sustained permanent injuries to her shoulder. The court ruled in her favor on this issue. Next, the plaintiff went to trial on the issue of whether Davis was negligent at the time of the crash, whether he caused the crash, and whether the plaintiff also sustained permanent back injuries. Following the trial, the jury concluded that the defendant was not negligent.
On appeal to the First District Court of Appeal, the plaintiff made a number of arguments. First, she claimed that the defense attorney made improper comments during closing arguments regarding statements from the plaintiff's deposition that had not been admitted at trial. The appellate court concluded that the lower court abused its discretion when it denied the plaintiff's motion for mistrial based on these statements, which accused the plaintiff of dishonesty.
The appellate court addressed each of the plaintiff's additional arguments, even though it concluded that the lower court's ruling regarding the closing argument comments was inappropriate. In sum, there were multiple issues regarding voir dire, a violation of the accident report privilege doctrine, improper testimony regarding how a physician was paid, and an improper insinuation from one of the parties that the plaintiff had previously received a speeding ticket. Ultimately, the appellate court remanded the proceeding for a new trial.
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