Bratton v. McDonoughAnnotate this Case
In 2004, Paula Bratton and Daniel Hills and their children (“the Brattons”), moved into a house that they rented from Halsey McDonough. In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services notified McDonough that he was required to relocate the Brattons because of numerous lead hazards throughout the rental property. The Brattons subsequently filed twelve-count complaint against McDonough. The trial court granted McDonough’s motion for judgment as a matter of law as to some of the Brattons’ claims and in favor of McDonough based on a jury verdict on the remaining claims. The Supreme Court vacated the jury’s verdict and remanded the case for a new trial, holding (1) the trial court clearly erred in excluding the Brattons’ qualified expert witness; (2) the trial court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for McDonough on the negligence claims of the two older children, as well as the intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages claims of all three children; (3) the trial court improperly shifted the burden of proof onto the Brattons to disprove McDonough’s independent causation theories and erred in refusing to give the jury a proper and requested instruction; and (4) the trial court’s errors created a fundamentally unfair trial.