Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drug testing evidence allowed in motor vehicle accident to show causation and credibility, no relief for invited error

JOHN C. BLAIR v. ROBERT SULLIVAN, JR., ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. April 22, 2009)

This appeal involves the plaintiff's negligence claim which arose from a motor vehicle accident with the defendant. Plaintiff first asserts that the trial court erred in allowing plaintiff's positive drug test to be admitted as evidence. Plaintiff also asserts that the trial court's jury instructions were improper and that the jury's verdict is not supported by the evidence. Reviewing plaintiff's first assertion, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the drug test as evidence. Likewise, we find that the jury instructions were proper and that there is material evidence supporting the jury's verdict. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The full text of this opinion is available at the TBA website:

“Here, Plaintiff does not explain how the introduction of the drug test result into evidence would result in unfair prejudice. Plaintiff’s sole complaint is that defendant’s attorney discussed the drug test’s effect on damages during closing argument. As mentioned above, plaintiff failed to object to these statements in the trial court. Because plaintiff does not point to any other prejudice, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the drug test result was not excluded under Tenn. R. Evid. 403.” Id.

“Plaintiff first contends that the trial court erred by failing to explain the context of the statute and by failing to omit certain irrelevant provisions of the statute in its instruction. Parties, however, are not entitled to relief on appeal from invited error. Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a). Plaintiff asked the trial court to read the entire statute as a jury instruction. Consequently, he is not entitled to relief on appeal on this issue.” Id.

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