Whitlow v. McConnahaAnnotate this Case
In this personal injury action, the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court granting a new trial on Plaintiff's claims against the driver of a motorcycle upon which Plaintiff was riding when the motorcycle collided with a farm tractor, holding that the district court correctly omitted the farmer from the new trial.
Plaintiff brought negligence claims against both the farmer and the motorcyclist. When the claims were submitted to the jury, the jury answered "no" to the question of whether the farmer was at fault. The verdict form mistakenly instructed the jury to stop there. The jury was then discharged without deciding whether the motorcyclist was at fault. Plaintiff moved for a new trial, and the district court ordered a new trial solely against the motorcyclist. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial involving both defendants. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the district court properly granted a new trial on Plaintiff's claims against the motorcyclist alone because the farmer should be excused from retrial where the jury's no-liability finding was untainted by the error affecting the motorcyclist.