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Case Law Update: Defense Comments in Negligence Case

U.S. Bank v. YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, No. 1-07-0487 (12-31-08) affirmed that a trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted plaintiff’s jnov motion after it concluded that repeated inappropriate outbursts by defense counsel were so loud that they were within hearing range of jury; that they were intended to prejudice jury; and resulted in jury prejudice. Trial judge’s recollection is not contradicted by trial record or refuted by defense. Further, during second trial for personal injuries suffered by minor ward when struck by van driven by employee of defendant, although it was error for judge to give non IPI instruction on higher level of duty owed by driver when children are in the vicinity, the instruction given accurately states the law, and was harmless. In addition, trial court did not err when it limited testimony of defense reconstruction expert to the reaction time of driver under different circumstances; and prohibited him from testifying that accident was unavoidable or that one witness’ observation about how accident happened was impossible. Verdict in excess of $15 Million, after reduction by 30% for comparative negligence, is not excessive. This will have an impact on all negligence trials.