Pope v. BabickAnnotate this Case
This case centered on a July 2008 motor vehicle accident. The vehicle occupied by plaintiffs Leo Pope and Judi Nightingale was hit by a vehicle driven by Debbie Sert (who was no longer a party). Plaintiffs proceeded to trial against Thomas Stanley, who they argued made a negligent lane change and caused Sert to hit plaintiffs’ car, and Matthew Babick, the vehicle’s owner. The jury found defendants not liable. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing: (1) there was not substantial evidence to support the verdict; and (2) misconduct of Babick’s attorney, Gregory Kane, was so egregious the court should have granted plaintiffs’ request for a mistrial or motion for a new trial. Kane directly violated a court order by eliciting causation evidence from a California Highway Patrol officer who responded to the scene. Kane was subsequently sanctioned $500 and the jury was given a curative instruction. The Court of Appeal completely rejected plaintiffs' first contention. While it found Kane’s behavior unacceptable from an officer of the court, the Court did not find the single question and answer on this subject was so prejudicial as to warrant a mistrial or new trial. The Court therefore affirmed.